The Three Dozen (or so) Questions to Ask Before You Hire an Erie DUI Lawyer
February 02, 2010 | Posted in DUI
By Tim George
Erie, PA DUI Lawyer & Criminal Defense Attorney
According to a news report, a record number of motorists were charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Pennsylvania in 2008. The Pennsylvania State Police reported that more than 16,156 motorists were charged with DUI in 2008, which was the highest number in Pennsylvania history and a 3% increase over the number of arrests in 2007. For many, this was the first time they ever faced allegations of DUI (or any allegations of wrongdoing of any kind).
For someone facing a DUI, this may be the first time that you ever hired a lawyer. You may ask yourself, “How do I choose the right lawyer for me and my case?” Perhaps you look in the yellow pages for guidance. However, all of the ads in the yellow pages appear to be the same, except for maybe the size and the amount of color in the advertisement. Every lawyer seems to offer a free consultation. Most claim to be “aggressive” or “experienced,” but, you probably ask yourself, “What does that really mean?”
Like any other important decision you make, you need information. The better the information, the better the decision. And the information you need to choose the right DUI lawyer for you and your case cannot be found inside (or on) the telephone book. Here are three dozen or so questions that will help you get the information you need:
- Do you offer a free initial consultation?
- Do you have malpractice insurance?
- How long have you been in practice?
- For how many years have you defended DUI cases?
- Have you successfully challenged a DUI stop on constitutional grounds?
- Have you successfully challenged the admissibility of blood or breath test results?
- Where can I read about your other cases?
- Do you offer free written materials?
- Can you explain both the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
- What will happen at every stage of my case?
- What is ARD?
- Do I qualify for ARD?
- What would ARD probation be like?
- Is ARD the right choice for me?
- What are the disadvantages of ARD?
- If I don’t qualify for ARD, will I lose my driver’s license?
- If I don’t qualify for ARD, will I go to jail?
- Have you ever defended DUI cases before a jury?
- Have you ever prosecuted DUI cases?
- Why does it matter if you have prosecuted DUI cases in the past?
- Will you meet with me in person before and after all court appearances?
- If I think that a drug or alcohol evaluation might be beneficial to me, can you help me find a counselor?
- Do you discuss your fees in advance?
- Do you put your fee arrangement in writing?
- Can I see the written fee arrangement today?
- Do you accept credit cards?
- Do you accept payments?
- Do you have a toll free number?
- Do you return telephone calls the same day that you receive them?
- How often do you check your email?
- Do you answer emails the same day that you receive them?
- If you are not available, do you have administrative assistants who can give me basic information about my case?
- Will you give me the names of other DUI lawyers who I can interview before I make a decision?
Here are several questions to ask yourself either during or after that free initial consultation.
- Did the lawyer listen to me?
- Did the lawyer speak in plain English and in a way that I could understand?
- Did the lawyer welcome all of my questions?
- Did the lawyer answer all of my questions to my satisfaction?
- Did the lawyer seem defensive or avoid altogether any of my questions?
These questions may not be exhaustive. There may be other questions that are important to you because each case is different and your goals may involve considerations unique to your situation. The lawyer who you choose should be pleased to answer all of the questions set forth in this article, together with any other questions unique to your special circumstances.
An allegation of DUI places both your freedom and your finances in jeopardy. In Pennsylvania, the number of arrests for driving under the influence has been rising. The penalties for a conviction have become more harsh. Our judges have less discretion because of mandatory sentencing schemes imposed by the Legislature. In fact, the sentences can include a mandatory term of imprisonment. A conviction for DUI triggers a one-year driver’s license suspension. And the fines and costs associated with either a conviction or ARD can exceed several thousand dollars.
Your decision to hire a DUI lawyer may be the most important decision you make this year. Much hangs in the balance for you and your family. You should feel free to ask all of the questions suggested in this article. A truly “experienced” DUI lawyer will be pleased to answer all of your questions. The information you seek cannot be found in the telephone book. And the answers you receive will make all the difference to you and your family. In the end, choosing the right DUI lawyer for you and your case starts with asking the right questions at the beginning.
Tim George has been a lawyer since 1992. He defends the freedom of people accused of criminal offenses and DUI offenses in Erie and throughout northwest Pennsylvania. For more information about your DWI case, and how to fight the charges, schedule a free office consultation by calling toll free (866) 794-2525.