If a police officer arrested you on charges of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), you need a lawyer right away. The consequences of a conviction for drunk driving charges can be quite serious, and having a proper defense can be critical to your future. The immediate penalties you could face, as well as the long-term impact on your future that comes with a drunk driving conviction, make it highly desirable to mount the best possible defense against drunk driving charges. The question, then, is how do you go about hiring the right DUI defense attorney?
DUI Penalties in Illinois Are No Laughing Matter
The criminal consequences of DUI in Illinois, even for a first-time offender, can be significant. Those penalties under Illinois law can include:
- Revocation or suspension of your driver’s license
- Community service, probation, and/or jail time
- Significant fines
- Court-ordered alcohol or drug education or treatment
- Putting an ignition interlock device in your vehicle
Court and probation costs and deadlines to achieve particular results or meet various court-ordered requirements can add to the costs or, potentially, the penalties of a DUI conviction. Failing to meet court-imposed requirements can result in you going to jail or facing other penalties, dramatically escalating the potential cost of a DUI conviction. To successfully navigate the pitfalls of being charged with DUI, proper legal counsel is a must.
Finding the Right DUI Attorney Isn’t Easy
Finding a DUI attorney based on recommendations can be tricky. Online rating services tend to lean toward the negative, as those are the ones who are the more persistent. Also, you don’t know the reviewers, so why should you care what they think? You might feel reluctant to talk to business associates, as while some of them might know or have needed a DUI attorney, do you really want them to know that you need one?
If you look closer to home, it can be hard to get recommendations from people you know, as they might be reluctant to admit they ever needed a DUI attorney. Also, they don’t really have any expertise, either. Probably the most important things for you to consider when it comes to hiring a DUI attorney are the attorney’s experience with DUI cases and how comfortable you are with the attorney.
While you can assess a DUI attorney’s experience without an actual meeting, determining how well you mesh with a DUI attorney often requires a face-to-face meeting. For such a meeting, you would hope to not only learn about your potential attorney’s background and experience and discuss your legal options, but you also want to decide whether this is the Illinois DUI attorney you personally want to hire. Criminal cases can move swiftly so you might not have the luxury of time to have a leisurely interview process. You need to find the right attorney quickly. So what do you look for?
If you have friends or family who previously hired a DUI attorney, you can see if they were happy with the attorney’s efforts and the results of the case. Otherwise, you will have to draw your own conclusions. Facing DUI charges, you have three options, assuming the prosecutor doesn’t choose to drop the charges: plead guilty out of the gate, seek some kind of plea bargain, or fight the charges. If you choose the third option, you need to know even more about your attorney and their criminal litigation experience. Questions you might want to ask could include:
- How long have you been practicing DUI law?
- Do you often handle cases involving scenarios like mine?
- What kind of DUI cases do you have experience handling?
- What are your professional credentials, including where you went to law school, your bar memberships, and any professional awards and recognition?
- How many DUI cases do you handle every year? How many do you settle? How many go to trial? What are typical results from your plea bargains?
There are obviously many other questions you should consider asking, but those are a good start. You will want the attorney’s assessment of your case, including whether the circumstances make it viable for you to seek a favorable plea deal, or whether you have a chance to successfully fight the charges. Many DUI cases end in a plea bargain, so you want a skilled negotiator on your side in the event you decide to plead guilty. You will want a DUI attorney willing to consider that your traffic stop or arrest was improper, which can help with a dismissal of your charges.
For instance, the police cannot stop you for no reason. A traffic stop requires probable cause, meaning that the police had reason to believe you were breaking the law. That might not be that high of a barrier, as probable cause could include a malfunctioning headlight, taillight, or brake lights, a clear defect in other safety equipment. It could constitute erratic driving behavior, including driving significantly below the speed limit, changing lanes erratically, or other driving actions that give the police reason to believe you might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Still, if there is no indication in the police report of such irregularities, you want an attorney who is willing to challenge the propriety of the stop to begin with.
If You Face DUI Charges in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, Consult the Criminal Attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C.
If an officer arrests you on DUI charges, you want the best defense you can get. You want an attorney who will fight for you and who knows how to fight for you. You should call the criminal attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C. They have extensive experience, including considerable time as felony prosecutors, giving them inside knowledge of the system. They will mount a tough and aggressive defense on your behalf and are committed to delivering the best possible result. For a consultation in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, contact them 24 hours a day at (630) 474-8000.