When you get out of jail after your arrest, you are going to feel a range of emotions.  Uncertainty, shame, anger, anxiety, dread…just to name a few.  But you should not waste any time on this next step: finding a good DUI lawyer, or as they are commonly known, a criminal defense attorney.

For better or worse, there isn’t a shortage of criminal defense attorneys who specialize in DUI cases in most areas.  Unfortunately, DUI charges are very common.  The downside to this is that your choices can seem daunting.  How do you find a good one with so many choices?

Here are 4 tips on finding a DUI attorney, based on my experience and research:

Look for attorneys who are located in your jurisdiction

These attorneys are going to best know the ins and outs of the court system in which you are charged. They’ll know the clerks, prosecutors, judges and any nuances specific to this court.

Start with Avvo.com, which is a professional directory of attorneys of all practices.  Select criminal defense, and your jurisdiction and search.

Look for attorneys who specialize in criminal and traffic law

Narrow down your search to those who specialize in traffic and DUI cases.  Read their reviews on Avvo and Google, review their profiles on their firm’s website, and look up their profiles on LinkedIn.  See who makes you feel more comfortable, and make a list. Specifically, those who specialize in DUI cases.  That attorney who does mostly family law, but says he can fit in a DUI case?  Probably not your best bet.  The one who does criminal law, and says 60% or so of his cases are DUI?  He might be better.

Get a free consultation

Found a few attorneys in your case’s jurisdiction who specialize in DUI cases?  Start calling their offices.  Almost all of them will be happy to give you a free consultation, where they will take down the details of your case and give you an honest professional opinion on your case.  They might tell you that you have a good case to argue, such as a faulty breath test, or a lack of probable cause for the initial stop.  They might tell you that the case is pretty solid, but they can scour the case for technicalities and a good plea deal.

You’ll likely find that most attorneys will give you the same synopsis on your case, and from there, it just comes down to who makes you the most comfortable, and what they are charging.  My case was quoted $2000 from a friend of a friend who mainly does family law, all the way up to $3800 from a random attorney I spoke to.  I went with the attorney I was most comfortable with, who charged $3500.

Pay your attorney or make payment arrangements

The fee is due immediately, either in full or with an approved payment plan.  At this point, they’ll handle things from there.  It is in your advantage to choose a attorney quickly.  The attorney will need to file paperwork with the court by 2pm the last business day before your arraignment hearing.  If this is done, you probably do not have to go to the arraignment, as it is implied to the court that you have acknowledged your charges, are not yet entering a plea and have a attorney working the case.  Your attorney will file discovery motions and seek out all documentation from your case from the arresting officer.

Next up – the weeks/months leading up to your trial – VASAP pre-enrollment and contact with your attorney.

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