How to choose a DUI Attorney
How to choose a DUI Attorney: Follow these tips
Choosing an attorney to handle your case is a very difficult task. In your search, you have probably noticed that everybody does driving under the influence defense. However, there are only a few attorneys in Virginia who actually specialize in DUI defense. The following are some suggestions to help you reduce your list of potential representatives.
Do not rely upon an attorney’s claim to be competent in Driving Under the Influence defense.
The Virginia State Bar does not qualify attorneys in any specific areas of law. Any attorney can claim, in advertisements or otherwise, that he/she handles any type of case. As you read the propaganda presented to you via internet, phone books, billboards etc., remember to examine the credentials of each attorney carefully. Look for advanced education and specialized training or actual experience in the complicated and complex field of Virginia drunk driving defense.
Use your common sense – an attorney cannot specialize in several areas of law.
You’ve heard the saying – “a jack of all trades and a master of none”. Most attorneys handle many types of cases; from criminal to personal injury to employment discrimination to family law . . . you get the point. These attorneys are responsible for keeping up with many updates and changes through the years which can reduce their ability to be an expert in any one particular area of law. Look for an attorney who actually specializes in your type of case.
Eliminate any attorney who has not completed training on the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
Field Sobriety Tests are a critical part of nearly every drunk driving case. The state will use the officer’s testimony regarding your performance on the FSTs to convince the court that he/she had reason to believe you were impaired while driving, and thus reason to arrest you for driving under the influence. Some FSTs have been standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and you will need an attorney who is educated and trained on these tests. Ask to see a completion certificate or course materials from any attorney claiming to have this training.
Eliminate any lawyer who has not completed training on Preliminary Breath Test devices used in Virginia.
Preliminary Breath Tests (PBTs) are also a key element in most driving under the influence cases. The state will use your PBT result to further convince the court that he/she had reason to suspect you were driving under the influence and thus arrest you for DWI. You will need an attorney who has been trained on the use and function of PBT devices to effectively challenge any results. A dedicated DWI defense attorney may have gone so far as to purchase his/her own collection of PBT devices.
Eliminate any lawyer who has not completed training on the new DUI breath test machine used in Virginia – the Intoximeter ECIR II.
The breath alcohol test result is the single most important piece of evidence in most Virginia driving under the influence cases, so you absolutely need an attorney who has been trained on the science of breath testing. In addition, you need an attorney who had been trained on how the specific machine used in Virginia works – and more importantly, why it sometimes doesn’t. Any attorney who has received proper training on the ECIR II machine should be able to tell you exactly how the machine works and what possible challenges it presents for your case.
Eliminate any attorney who has not completed training on both laboratory and hospital alcohol testing.
Some cases in Virginia involve blood analysis instead of breath analysis. Blood tests can be done in a hospital or in a state laboratory. Each venue has a different method of analysis and, thus, differing potential for errors. If your case involved a blood test, you need an attorney who has experience, education and training on the scientific principles of blood testing and the various sources of error.
Eliminate any attorney who tells you how the case will turn out or suggests you plead guilty in your initial conversation.
An attorney who is not well trained in drunk driving defense will attempt to predict your case and may suggest you plead guilty in your initial conversation. It is not possible to make a meaningful assessment of any case at initial consultation because all of the information necessary for a thorough case assessment will not be available. If an attorney tells you what will happen in your case, they likely are relying strictly on their relationships within a specific jurisdiction and may therefore have no intention of actually investigating the evidence against you. You need an attorney who will keep an open-mind and allow their investigation to lead them to the outcome.
Eliminate any attorney who has not won Virginia Driving Under the Influence cases at trial.
Experience matters! You do not want to be a part of an attorney’s learning curve. Ask the attorney for specific examples of DWI trials they have defended. You need an attorney with experience at trials.
Eliminate any attorney who does not regularly attend at least one NATIONAL conference devoted exclusively to Driving Under the Influence defense.
DWI defense is extremely specialized and technical; it combines law, science and medicine. To be effective in impaired driving defense, attorneys must seek out extensive advanced education and specialized training in the scientific concepts and principles behind breath testing, blood testing, field sobriety testing and the widespread use of averages, approximations and assumptions. It is a challenging endeavor and requires more effort than most attorneys are willing to put forth in one area of the law. You need an attorney who is willing to invest time, money and energy into furthering their own education, enabling them to best represent you.
Eliminate any attorney who has been disciplined by the Virginia State Bar.
It is important to have trust in an attorney representing you for any legal case. Be sure to ask if the attorney has ever been disciplined by the Virginia State Bar, or you can check for yourself on the Bar’s website (www.vsb.org). You need an attorney you can trust.
Simply put – Insist on hiring a defense attorney who has not been in trouble with the Virginia State Bar, who regularly attends national conferences devoted to impaired driving defense, who is educated and trained on the most important components of DWI prosecution (FSTs, PBTs, and the evidentiary breath or blood test), and who has been victorious in cases at trial, and you will likely end up with a qualified impaired driving defense attorney.
For more information about driving under the influence defense, call The Wilson Law Firm at (703) 361-6100 to speak with a qualified attorney today. We can educate you about Virginia laws and help you take the appropriate steps toward an effective defense.