Perhaps things started innocently enough. You went to a ball game with your friends and had a few beers—or more. Or you went to a happy hour after work that lasted just a bit more than an hour. You got behind the wheel to drive home, and somewhere along the way, flashing lights lit up behind you, and they weren’t for the guy next to you. They were for you. You spent some time in handcuffs, and maybe in a holding cell. Your car got towed, you took a cab home from the police station, and when it was over, the only thing you were sure of was that you needed a lawyer. The big question in your mind now is, how do I go about choosing one?
How Do I Find the Right DUI Attorney?
When you find yourself in such a situation, likely with no experience in such a matter, it is likely that you would be, at best, at a loss for what to do next. Whether out of fear of too many people finding out about the charges you are facing or in the hope that your employer would not learn of your predicament, you might feel you have nowhere to turn for assistance.
If you were arrested on charges of driving under influence, you might realize you need an attorney, but with no experience in the task, you might not know how to find the right one for you. You must be aware of the fact that that the consequences of a drunk-driving conviction are potentially serious. You likewise must realize that having a good defense could be critical to your future. You face serious long-term impacts on your future that can result from a drunk-driving conviction. You need to fight back, but how?
You Don’t Want to Face Even First-Time DUI Penalties in Illinois
A conviction on DUI charges in Illinois carries significant penalties, even for a first-time offense. The penalties can include:
- The suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
- Community service, probation, or jail time
- Substantial fines
- Mandatory drug or alcohol treatment or education
- Requiring an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
The court can assess court and probation costs to you. If you fail to satisfy court-imposed requirements, you could go to jail or face fines and other penalties, resulting in significantly higher costs for a DUI conviction, aside from any other criminal penalties, including jail time. Given the risks to your wallet and your liberty, you need to find an attorney who will give you the best defense possible.
Finding the Right DUI Lawyer Is Difficult, but Important
It can be hard to find a good DUI attorney. Maybe you got a lot of unsolicited mail from DUI attorneys who scan the court docket looking for potential clients. How likely are you to go that route, knowing absolutely nothing about the attorney who sent you the unsolicited mail? Everybody knows that online rating services are likely to emphasize the negative—unhappy people are much more likely to post a rating than happy people. Those who feel they weren’t well-served tend to be squeaky wheels. Without even knowing who these people are, how can you put any weight on their opinions? You might be reluctant to talk to co-workers, for obvious reasons, and how likely are your friends to admit that they have personal experience with using a DUI attorney? It is entirely possible you will be on your own.
You can look at attorney profiles online and assess their credentials and years of experience. It can be hard to tell from online profiles how much experience an attorney has in DUI cases, though, when he also lists 20 other areas of “expertise.” Under those circumstances, it seems likely that you will have to talk to some attorneys, face to face, to try and find the one who is right for you.
A face-to-face meeting will enable you to make what might be the most important determination there is in choosing an attorney, for a DUI or any other case: how well do you connect with the attorney? If you interview an attorney and seem to understand one another and communicate well, that probably is a good choice for an attorney to represent you, assuming the experience is there.
So if you connect personally and intellectually, what is the next step to determining whether this is the attorney for you? You’ll need to ask some questions, which could include:
- How many DUI cases do you handle each year? For how many years have you been doing this?
- How many cases have you seen involving scenarios like mine?
- What are your professional qualifications?
- Where did you go to law school?
- What are your bar memberships?
- Do you have 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?
You could ask other questions, as well, to help you determine if this is the attorney for you. Beyond the experience, though, the most important part is whether you feel like you can trust the attorney to represent you well. The capability to do so is not enough; you have to believe the attorney will follow through and not simply go through the motions and then seek a plea bargain. If you plan to fight your DUI charge, you want an attorney who will fight hard. More than almost anything else, that could be the quality you are looking for.
If You Need Representation on Drunk-Driving Related Charges in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, Contact the Criminal Attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C.
If you are facing drunk-driving charges in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, you need to find the best possible defense. The adverse and serious consequences of a DUI conviction leave you with no choice. In that situation, you need to have an attorney who will fight for you. To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced DUI defense lawyers, call our office today at (630) 430-8622 or contact us online.