Posted by Katrina Petrovich in Atlanta DUI Lawyer on November 11, 2019
So, you’ve been charged – rightly or wrongly – with DUI (driving under the influence). Since Georgia’s DUI penalties are among the strictest in the nation, you need to act quickly to secure legal representation to get your driving privileges back.
Your success, though, hinges on hiring the right DUI lawyer who will deliver the results you need. While there may seem to be many lawyers, not all are equal.
As we wrote in a previous entry, time is of the essence when your license is suspended. Under Georgia law, you have just 30 days from your arrest date to submit a letter of appeal for your license.
The timelines are set in stone and can’t be changed, so the sooner you select a lawyer, the sooner you’ll be able to legally drive again.
While time is of the essence, you shouldn’t go with the first name you see. In cases like this, it literally pays to do your research. Here’s what you need to know about choosing a DUI defense lawyer in Atlanta.
Look For a Focus on Defending DUI Cases
While most lawyers handle a wide variety of cases, they will generally practice either criminal or civil law. Whether you’re actually guilty of DUI or not, you want a lawyer who practices criminal law.
Because DUI laws in the Peach State are so harsh and have such firm timelines for action, you want a lawyer who has a clear understanding of what the law requires, and what legal thresholds must be met in your defense.
Pay Attention to What Previous Clients Say
There’s no better form of advertising than word of mouth. You can tell a lot about a DUI lawyer’s record of success from what some of their previous clients say about their experience.
Be sure to find out how they describe their relationship with the lawyer and their level of satisfaction about the overall process.
Did their lawyer accurately describe the legal process? Did the lawyer keep the client updated on how the case was proceeding? Did the client feel properly prepared for their day in court?
These are all good questions to ask of previous clients.
Meet With the Attorney Face-to-Face
In fact, take a day to meet several lawyers in-person. During your meetings, be upfront about every aspect of your case, including any previous DUI charges.
This gives them a chance to offer their opinion about how they’d approach your case, and tell you about any previous successes with similar cases.
Find Out if the Law Firm is Too Big or Too Small to Give Your Case the Attention it Deserves
Knowing the number of cases the firm handles is important. Finding out if they handle them effectively is even more important.
While a small law firm may be able to provide you with more personal attention, a larger firm may be able to devote more resources – such as expert witnesses – to your case.
Make Sure You’re Comfortable With the Legal Fees
While the costs of a lawyer will probably not come close to the costs of an actual DUI conviction, it’s important you be comfortable with a legal fee you can afford.
Know When to Recognize a Potentially Bad DUI Lawyer
This is not as difficult as you may think, even if you have no legal experience whatsoever.
A clear first sign that it’s time to move on is if the attorney tries to convince you to make a quick guilty plea. They may even try to convince you it’s a good deal because you might pay a lesser fine.
Value Your Comfort Level
Complete honesty with your lawyer is essential to the success of your case. You need to be able to rest assured that everything you tell your lawyer will be held in confidence. Confidentiality is key, and a good DUI lawyer will know what’s important to bring out in court and what to keep behind closed doors.
Make sure the lawyer is able to map out a clear strategy for handling your cases, and how you will be updated throughout its progress. Keep in mind that when you hire a lawyer, you’re employing someone to represent your interests and to act on your behalf. Your lawyer is someone with whom you should feel comfortable, so the selection should be a good fit with your personality and your desired outcome.
Don’t Make a Decision on the Spot
No matter how strong it may be, resist the urge to make a final selection while you’re still in the lawyer’s office. Instead, make notes as you go along through the process and reach a final decision once you’ve had an opportunity to think about it clearly at home.
Even though time is a big factor when you’ve been charged with a DUI in Georgia, it is definitely in your best interest to research your options for legal representation. By using this guide to lead you through the process of making your selection, you should be in the best position for the legal outcome you’re hoping for.