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What to Look for in a DWI Lawyer

What to Look for in a DWI Lawyer

The lawyer you choose for your DUI defense can make a difference in the outcome. A skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced lawyer can use proven strategies while tailoring them to your situation. They may also know which facts to assert that may persuade prosecutors to reduce or drop DUI charges.

Not all lawyers have the same qualifications. As you interview lawyers for your case, look for certain attributes and experiences that indicate which lawyer will provide the best defense possible for your charges.

Finding a DWI Lawyer

Many people accused of crimes do not know where to start their search for a criminal defense lawyer. First, not all criminal defense lawyers handle DUI cases, so the first step is to gather a list of lawyers who focus on DUI defense. 

You can gather names from many sources, including:

  • Friends and family members
  • A lawyer who works in a different practice area, such as family law or estate planning 
  • Online legal directories
  • Your local bar association
  • Search engines

Once you have a few names, you need to narrow down the field by contacting them and scheduling consultations. Many criminal defense attorneys offer a free consultation to potential clients. You will use these meetings to interview the lawyers, asking questions about their backgrounds and discussing how they will handle your case.

Characteristics to Look for in a Defense Lawyer

You must balance several factors when interviewing lawyers. Some of these factors include the following:

Fair Legal Fees

You should discuss legal fees during your initial consultation. Criminal defense lawyers may charge a flat fee or an hourly fee. Flat fees give you more predictable legal costs, but hourly fees are much more common. Additionally, a lawyer who charges a flat fee might limit the scope of work they will perform.

Hourly fees are charged based on the time the lawyer spends on your case. These fees may make your legal costs less predictable. But this means the lawyer can adapt their strategy toward your needs as the case goes on.

Strong Communication Skills

A lawyer’s job is to communicate. Without strong communication skills, they cannot:

  • Explain your rights and the options available to you
  • Advocate for you with prosecutors
  • Effectively present your case to a judge or jury

As you ask your lawyer questions, listen for how clearly they explain the answer. If you can follow their reasoning, chances are good that prosecutors, judges, and jurors will also follow it.

Trustworthy Advisor

A lawyer has two roles. When the lawyer communicates with prosecutors, judges, and jurors, they must communicate persuasively. But when the lawyer talks to you, they must offer objective advice. You should have the full picture — both the good and the bad — so that you can make informed decisions about your case.

Look for a lawyer who tells you about the risks you face and the odds of losing your case. Discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Avoid hiring a lawyer who sugarcoats everything or guarantees a win.

Experience With DUI Cases

All lawyers learn criminal law in law school. Only a few join criminal defense law firms to gain the training and experience needed to represent defendants.

Any experience defending clients from criminal charges is helpful. However, you should look for a lawyer with a background specific to your charges. Someone who practices DUI defense has access to resources helpful in these cases, such as:

  • Knowledge of New Jersey DUI laws
  • Connections with scientific experts to challenge the accuracy of alcohol tests
  • Familiarity with prosecutors who handle DUI cases

DUI defense lawyers also know which arguments work in the court where you face charges. Often, a lawyer’s skill can raise enough doubts that the prosecutors will drop or reduce the charges.

Track Record of Success

Successful lawyers have dozens or even hundreds of satisfied clients. You should look for lawyers who include examples of case results on their websites.

You can also search for a lawyer’s reviews, but be careful about the sources you use. Google, Facebook, and other public sources do not screen reviewers. As a result, disgruntled opposing parties can submit poor reviews by impersonating clients. 

Legal directories are often better resources because they either use reviews from colleagues or verify that reviews have come from clients.

Contact a Lawyer to Learn More

A DUI conviction in New Jersey carries a high cost. You face a mandatory education program, a fine, and a driver’s license suspension. Depending on your history of DUI arrests, you might face jail time as well. We understand what’s at stake. Contact us to learn how we can help you with your DUI case.


Author: Steven Ellman

Steven is laser-focused on helping his clients resolve their legal issues promptly, receive fair compensation where applicable, and move forward with their lives. He is known for treating all his clients with the utmost respect, listening to their concerns, giving them options, and helping them make informed decisions about how to best proceed with their cases.