Questions to Ask Your DUI Lawyer
According to 2017 statistics, someone in the United States dies in drunk-driving accidents every 48 minutes. Although Pennsylvania alcohol-related fatalities decreased from 297 to 293, alcohol-related crashes increased in 2017. In Pennsylvania, drinking and driving is an important safety issue and is taken very seriously by courts and legislators.
Being charged with driving under the influence, or DUI, is an unnerving experience. You may be concerned about losing your driver’s license, your freedom, and costs and fines. Having a DUI on your record may have a long-term impact on your employment and your future. It is essential to retain the services of an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney. Asking your prospective attorney questions about your case should happen as soon as possible. Do not hesitate to ask questions. Remember, the attorney will be defending you. Naturally, you will be under a great deal of stress, so when meeting with a DUI attorney, it is a good idea to bring a list of any questions you want to ask. Here are some questions you should ask.
What Kind of Experience Do You Have Handling Driving Under the Influence Cases?
- Does your practice focus on DUI law, or are you a general practice attorney?
- How long have you practiced DUI law?
- What percentage of your caseload is devoted to DUI cases?
- How many of these cases did you handle in the past year and how successful were those cases?
- What percentage of your DUI cases go to trial.
- How often have you been able to get the charges dropped or reduced to a lesser offense?
- Do you have any specialized training in DUI law?
What Is the Law Pertaining to DUI Cases in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania’s new, stricter DUI laws came into effect in October 2018. The new law contains stiffer penalties for drunk driving convictions and creates a new felony category for some DUI offenses.
- What do I need to know about Pennsylvania DUI law?
- What about recent changes in the law?
- How long will a DUI stay on my record?
What Are My Options?
The Pennsylvania laws regarding driving under the influence are very complex. There are a variety of options, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. A first time DUI offender may be eligible for the “ARD” or Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. There are certain requirements to be admitted into the ARD Program, however.
The prosecuting attorney from the county in which you are charged must first make a recommendation. However, defendants still usually face a number of hurdles. The District Attorney considers whether or not there were any serious to people involved in the accident or other major damage arising from the incident which led to your DUI driving arrest, and extenuating factors such as whether there were any passengers under the age of 14 in your vehicle at the time of the DUI. Other factors pertaining to your criminal background record may exclude you from participation in the program. In some cases, the ARD program may not be the best option for you. It’s important to ask your attorney:
- What options are potentially available for my case?
- Is it possible to avoid going to jail?
- What about negotiating a lesser penalty for me?
How Well Do You Know the Local Area?
The law pertaining to DUI is the same throughout Pennsylvania. However, the administrative practices of the courts and the department of motor vehicle offices may differ according to their location. Different counties may have specific programs, such as work release or house arrest. Therefore, it is important to know about the attorney’s familiarity with the local courts and law enforcement. You may ask a prospective lawyer:
- Do you regularly defend DUI cases in the local area?
- How well do you know the local courts and prosecutors?
How Do You See My Case Playing Out?
By the end of the consultation, you and the attorney should have discussed all the facts. It is important to provide complete and truthful facts, in order for the attorney to give you a fair and reasonable outlook. Once you have hired an attorney, he or she should be able to review police reports, dash cam videos, and other available information. Only then will he or she be able to form the most effective strategy to argue your case and give you a good idea of what to expect.
Who Will Handle My Case?
It helps to know who you will be working with as your case progresses:
- Will there be other staff working on my case, such as support staff, or paralegals?
- Will other experienced attorneys be working on my case?
- Who will be representing me in court?
How Do You Communicate With Your Clients?
People tend to have different expectations of attorney-client communications. Some clients want frequent updates; others only want to be notified of significant developments. It helps to have an understanding about communications from the beginning, to avoid misunderstandings later:
- How do you prefer to be contacted?
- How often will I receive updates on the status of my case?
- How quickly can I expect a response if I need to contact you?
How Much Should I Expect This to Cost?
There are a great many variables involved in the cost of a DUI case. There may be other expenses in addition to attorney’s fees. You probably will not get an exact price, but there may be a reasonable estimate:
- How much do you expect to charge for my case?
- Do you charge a fixed fee calculation or is it an hourly rate?
- What is included in the fee? What is not included?
- Will I be billed for travel time or mileage?
- How much is the retainer or minimum first payment?
Get Help With Your DUI Case Today
Michael J. Skinner and the attorneys at the Skinner Law Firm handle DUI cases in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding areas. We can fight to protect your rights and seek the best possible outcome for your case. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, call Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 or contact Skinner Law online. We are here to help you.