Being charged with a DWI offense in Texas can be a severely traumatic experience. The financial penalties are harsh, the prospect of jail time is very real, and your reputation can be compromised with potential employers, insurance companies, and within the wider community.
Choosing the right attorney to represent you is a critical decision, and one which could affect you for the rest of your life. To help you make the right choice, here are three tips on how to choose a DWI/DUI attorney in Texas who has the skills, knowledge, and experience to protect you.
1. Assess Your Options
Even though being charged with a DWI offense can be extremely stressful, you shouldn’t allow the pressure to force you into making hasty decisions when choosing an attorney. Once you have received your “Notice of Suspension” from the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Program, you have 15 days to request your driver’s license. This gives you at least a couple of weeks to talk to a number of attorneys and compare their advice to make sure you get the best legal strategy for your particular case. So take your time, ask for referrals, and make a list of attorneys you can talk to.
2. Don’t Believe the Hype
There are plenty of attorneys around (especially online) who claim to be DWI/DUI law specialists, but aren’t. Just because an attorney or law firm makes bold promises in their advertising doesn’t mean they actually have the skills to defend you effectively. In fact, many attorneys who bill themselves as DWI lawyers make their living off of getting lots of cases processed through the system, often at the expense of your best interests.
A true specialist is more concerned with the quality of your defense than the quantity of clients they can push through the system. DWI/DUI law specialists will have their own processes for dealing with cases, often conducting their own investigation into your case. Your attorney should be able to explain the steps they need to go through to build the best defense for your particular case. And if a DWI/DUI attorney suggests a strategy without first conducting a thorough investigation of your case, you can be pretty certain you are dealing with someone who is more interested in their own bottom line rather than building the best defense for you.
The ideal experience for a lawyer dealing with DWI/DUI defense cases is someone who handles them on a regular basis. DWI/DUI law is complex and the laws are changing and evolving all the time. Even seemingly straightforward cases can overwhelm an attorney who doesn’t keep up to date with the details. To make sure have the best opportunity to protect yourself properly, you need to engage a specialist to handle your case. Ask the attorney for specifics related to how many cases they have handled in the past year, and what their success rate is for defending their clients. Another important question is to ask whether or not they are Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
3. Ask the Right Questions
It’s your life, liberty, and your livelihood at stake, so don’t be shy about asking tough questions to get the details you need to make an informed decision. Here are six questions you should ask before you hire any DWI attorney:
- What is your experience in handling DWI/DUI law in Texas?
When it comes to handling DWI/DUI cases, experience is key. While there are many talented attorneys in Texas, not all of them deal with DWI/DUI cases regularly. You really want an attorney who is dealing with cases on at least a monthly basis.
- Will you conduct your own investigations into my case?
As we mentioned, this is a critical question for determining whether or not the attorney you are talking to is a DWI/DUI specialist. If they don’t mention their investigative procedures and processes, or they give you a general answer, you can be pretty sure they don’t have what it takes to build the best defense for you.
- What do you see as potential difficulties in my particular case?
Try to be as transparent as possible with the attorney you are interviewing, and make sure to bring all DWI/DUI related documents with you to the first meeting. As we mentioned above, DWI/DUI laws in Texas are complex, and very often it is the minor details that can make the difference between winning and losing your case.
- Who will handle my case?
Modern law practices are typically busy, and very often the attorney you speak to about your case may not be the one who ultimately handles it. If is it clear that the attorney you speak to initially will not be handling your case, find out if the attorney who will be in court with you has the necessary expertise and experience to defend you successfully. You also want to make sure you are treated like an individual instead of just another case number.
- Have you ever had disciplinary measures take against you or members of your firm?
This question might seem forward, but the last thing you want is to find out in the middle of your case that your attorney has a tarnished reputation in the Texas legal community. Your own reputation, and possibly even your livelihood, is on the line, so it’s in your best interest to ask the right questions so you know your case is in safe hands and will be dealt with by competent professionals.
6. What are the legal costs for handling a case like mine?
The nature and severity of your case will dictate how much of your attorney’s time and skill is required to develop an effective defense, which will in turn determine your legal fees. This is why it is crucial you get a good understanding of your particular case from a legal perspective. Make sure you also ask about how the law firm charges – whether per hour or flat fee – and if they offer a payment plan or not. Have clear expectations about fees before you enter into a relationship with an attorney.
Choosing a good DWI attorney can be confusing, and hopefully these three tips have helped understand the kind of information you need to get before making a final decision.
For more information or to discuss your case with an experienced professional with a proven track record, feel free to contact us to arrange a meeting with a specialist Houston DWI lawyer. We will meet with you personally and offer an honest assessment of your case.