Have you been arrested for DUI (Driving Under the Influence), DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), or any other drunk driving-related offense in Chicago? You should seek the legal advice of a good, reputable DUI lawyer. A good DUI lawyer can help minimize or avoid severe penalties and consequences often associated with DUI. Knowing when to contact or hire a DUI attorney can make the difference between going to jail, losing your license, and getting a non-guilty or reduced plea verdict. Below is important information you should know concerning why, when, and how to hire a DUI lawyer.
A DUI arrest is a serious matter. If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, there’s a good chance you’ll face jail time, have your license suspended, and/or pay hefty fines – not to mention the potential hardships you may encounter at work, with your future career prospects, and personal relationships. In addition, if someone died as a result of your drunk driving, you will potentially have to deal with severe psychological issues as well. While some legal matters may be handled alone, a DUI arrest warrants the legal advice of a qualified DUI attorney or someone who knows how to handle the intricacies of your DUI case. And not just any criminal defense attorney will do. Because DUI laws are highly centralized and specific, DUI cases are best handled by experienced DUI attorneys or someone with specialized knowledge in this area, including knowledge of traffic laws, motor vehicle laws, and ignition interlock devices, for example.
Moreover, a good DUI attorney may challenge certain aspects of your DUI charge based on his or her specialized knowledge of breathalyzers, blood test, and chemical testing procedures.Therefore, you need a good DUI lawyer who can help guide you through the often confusing word of DUI.
If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you don’t have a lot of time to hire a lawyer. But you shouldn’t hire just any lawyer. The article condenses what you need to know to hire the right Illinois DUI attorney for you. According to Illinois DUI law, the penalties for drunken driving are revocation of your Illinois driver’s license for at least one year, possible imprisonment, fines, and community service. The key to finding a good Illinois DUI attorney is in the interviews you conduct before you hire a lawyer. Most DUI attorneys in Illinois are willing to chat with you briefly to introduce themselves and hear about your case. Your goals for this meeting are to learn about the attorney’s background and experience, discuss your legal options, and decide whether this is the Illinois DUI attorney you want to hire. The criminal justice system can move swiftly compared to civil court where lawsuits are heard. You may not have the luxury of time to interview numerous attorneys. With our Top 10 TIPS, however, you still should be able to find the right lawyer for you.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
A drunk driving charge is a serious matter. Don’t hire the first lawyer that you talk to. Interview at least three lawyers before making a hiring decision, and prepare to see as many as five or six. Don’t hire any attorney until you find one that you are completely comfortable with.
ASK INTELLIGENT QUESTIONS
The most important thing about a DUI / DWI charge is to keep it off your record. Ask the lawyers you interview to explain to you how they would try to keep the case off your record. If they can’t tell you any strategies, you probably better move on to the next lawyer. Ask how many DUI / DWI cases they have defended. Prosecuting DWIs is not the same as defending them. Ask how many DWI cases they have won for their defendants. Ask them to tell you four or five different ways that they have won DWI cases for their clients. Ask them what percentage of their practice is dedicated to DWI defense. Ask them to tell you about the OTHER lawyers who you have interviewed, or intend to interview. You should pick up some very valuable information by asking these questions.
DEMAND CLEAR ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS
If you can’t understand what a lawyer is talking about, and you know the facts of your case, do you really think a juror will understand that lawyer any better? Trying a case is like telling a story. If the lawyer can’t make the jurors understand them, it is highly unlikely that the jurors will agree with them at the end of the case. The ability to communicate clearly is definitely an important factor in hiring an attorney!
GET IT IN WRITING
Get an employment contract in writing. Make sure you know exactly what it is going to cost you to have a fully contested jury trial on your case. The last thing you want to happen is for the lawyer to tell you at the last second that it is going to cost you an additional $5,000 or $10,000 to take your case to trial. Get it all written down from the beginning. When the lawyer quotes you a fee, make sure that the fee covers everything, including a jury trial, and that there are no other contingencies. One of my pet peeves are lawyers who tell clients that they’ll “handle” the client’s case for, say, $4,500, and then after being paid that much, the lawyers say “Thank you very much. Now that’ll be another $7,500 to go to trial.” That’s completely unethical, and I’ve seen it happen!
LEARN YOUR MARKET
In any large metropolitan area, there will probably be at least ten or fifteen elite level DWI defense lawyers. In smaller communities, there may be only two or three, or maybe none at all. Money isn’t everything, but figure out what a reasonable fee is in your community. I’ve been defending DWI cases for over 20 years, and I have won hundreds of them. And I can’t see any reason to pay any more than $10,000 to a lawyer to defend you on a simple, first offense DWI. I’ve seen excellent attorneys successfully defend a simple DWI for $3,500 to $5,000. If one lawyer is quoting you a substantially higher fee, have them explain to your satisfaction why they would charge you more than anyone else. If they claim that they are better than everyone else, challenge them to prove it to you. If they can prove it, they might be worth it!
LEARN TO RECOGNIZE BALONEY WHEN YOU SEE IT
Experience, past results, and good communication skills are some excellent reasons to hire one attorney over another. But some reasons are complete baloney. Here’s a few of them: “I know the judge.” Judges are professionals and they like their jobs. They aren’t going to risk their careers for you or your lawyer. “I know the prosecutor.” See above. “I have connections.” Same. “I used to be a judge” or “I used to be a prosecutor.” Big deal. Find out how many cases they have won for the defendants they have represented. That’s what counts! “I can guarantee that your case will be dismissed.” Run as fast as you can! This statement is highly unethical, and virtually impossible to know in a contested case. And all DWI cases are hotly contested. “I have won every case I’ve ever handled.” Either the lawyer is lying, has handled only 3 or 4 cases, or only goes to trial when the facts are overwhelmingly in the defense’s favor. None of these are good for you.
KEEP YOURSELF INFORMED
You don’t need to know every detail about your case, but you should have a general idea of what is happening with your case at all times. If something doesn’t make sense to you, get an explanation from your lawyer. If you can’t get an answer that makes sense, consider getting a second opinion. This case is important to you! If there is ever a time where you feel confused, get your questions answered!
DON’T GIVE UP WITHOUT A FIGHT!
This is one of the most important points in defending any DWI case. Virtually every DWI case is potentially winnable. One of the worst mistakes you can ever make is to plead guilty to your case before you have fully investigated it. Find a lawyer who indicates to you that he wants to fight your case. The best lawyer in the world can’t get a not guilty verdict on a guilty plea. A rookie lawyer right out of law school might win your case if you plead not guilty. Don’t simply hire the most expensive lawyer you can find – find the BEST lawyer you can afford! If you can’t afford the best, try to find the hungriest lawyer – the new kid who is trying to make a name for themselves.
NEVER BE AFRAID TO GET A SECOND OPINION
As I’ve said repeatedly, this case is extremely important to you! This is your life! Any time that you are in doubt, contact your lawyer. If your lawyer doesn’t give you a satisfactory answer to your questions, get a second opinion! The one time I would strongly suggest getting a second opinion is if your lawyer suggests that you shouldn’t contest your case, or that you have no chance to win. Any DWI case is potentially winnable, and guilty pleas should be entered only as a last resort, and then, only if you are getting something of a bargain. A plea bargain is no bargain if you don’t get anything back in exchange for your plea! Best wishes for a successful outcome to your case!
10. Finding an Illinois DUI Attorney
You have several ways to find a recommended Illinois DUI attorney. You can canvas your friends, family members, and business colleagues to see if they have ever hired an Illinois DUI lawyer. If they have, you’ll want to know about their experience. Did their lawyer do a good job? Was the advice good? Did the strategy work? Would they hire the same lawyer again if needed?
If you’d rather not discuss your recent arrest with people you know, you can use the resources here at Attorneys.com. Whether you live in Chicago, Springfield, Peoria, Joliet, or elsewhere in Illinois, we offer a service that can connect you to an Illinois DUI attorney in your area.
Call 1-877-913-7222 or fill out the short form on this website to start the process. After answering a few questions, we’ll send you the name of at least one Illinois DUI lawyer near you.
You may call the lawyer yourself or he or she will get back to you within two business days.
Interviewing Illinois DUI Lawyers
You want your Illinois DWI attorney to have a lot of experience representing clients with charges similar to your own. When you first meet with attorneys you’re considering hiring, ask how often they have represented clients charged with DWI in Illinois.
It may also help you to have an attorney who has worked often in the same courthouse where your case will be heard. An Illinois DWI attorney with a good reputation among courthouse personnel and the prosecuting attorney’s office may open doors for you where others could not.
Options & Strategies
The Illinois DUI attorneys you meet will ask you specific questions about your arrest. They’ll want to understand what happened and the evidence against you.
Unless the prosecution drops the charges against you, you are looking at three legal options: plead guilty, try to negotiate a plea bargain which would have you pleading guilty to a lesser charge, or plead not guilty and go to trial. Have the lawyers review the consequences of each option.
Also ask the lawyers how they would handle your case. You may have more Illinois DUI defensesthan you realized. Strategy is case-specific and cannot be generalized here. So, seek input from the lawyers you meet.
At this point, you’re probably wondering what your defense will cost. DUI lawyers in Illinois generally use two types of billing methods: The hourly fee and the flat fee. They work as you’d imagine, either charging by the hour or one flat price for the lawyer’s time.
Your final legal tab, however, will include many more line items than just the lawyer’s time. You will likely pay for other, related legal expenses, such as:
- A paralegal’s time
- The cost of hiring an investigator
- The cost of hiring an expert witness
- Travel expenses
- Court fees
Be sure to ask the Illinois DUI lawyers you meet how much these other expenses could total.
Rates among DUI lawyers in Illinois tend to be competitive. However, if you have an arraignment approaching, time is not on your side. You can ask a lawyer to reduce his or her fees, however, onlybefore you hire someone. After you hire a lawyer, it is too late to renegotiate lower rates.
Finally, don’t forget to ask the attorneys which kinds of payment they accept and whether they offer payment plans.
Beyond the objective qualities in an attorney-experience, advice, strategy, and legal fees-you also need to consider how you feel about each Illinois DUI attorney you meet. You may work closely with your lawyer for several months. You want to like and trust him or her.
Ask yourself if the lawyer is patient with you. Do you have confidence in the lawyer’s advice and judgment? Do you feel comfortable with this attorney?
Choosing an Illinois DUI Attorney
After you have completed all your interviews, it’s time to choose one to represent you. Evaluate each one using the criteria above: experience, strategy, legal fees, and how you felt with each.
If you only met with one, but the lawyer measures up, your search is complete. If you can’t decide between two or more lawyers, tell them you’d like to contact a few previous clients. Then call those clients to find out what it was really like working with their lawyers. Ask the same kinds of questions suggested above for friends and family members who may have hired an Illinois DUI attorney.
The feedback you receive should help you narrow the field to your very best candidate. When you have hired your Illinois DUI lawyer, you are ready to face the rest of your prosecution.