After a DUI arrest in St. Petersburg, many defendants assume their lives are over. After all, there’s no need to fight the charges when the officer has such overwhelming evidence, right?
In reality, the right attorney can make a substantial difference in the outcome of your case. Ask these five questions, however, before hiring a lawyer.
#1. How many St. Petersburg DUI cases have you handled? What were the outcomes?
Knowing the ins and outs of DUI cases makes it easier to find holes. You need to uncover inconsistencies or lack of evidence in the prosecution’s case if you want to cast reasonable doubt. Since DUI cases often follow similar patterns, attorneys who have previously tried and/or prosecuted such charges might give you an advantage.
Plea bargaining resolves a significant number of DUI charges. You will want to know what the odds are your case will make it to court. Ask how many cases the attorney has tried in relationship to plea agreements.
#2. How much knowledge do you have concerning field sobriety tests?
Field sobriety tests form the foundation for most DUI arrests. Accordingly, an improperly administered test would mean a lack of probable cause. Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approves certain tests and provides guidelines for administering them. If police gave you an unapproved test or failed to follow certain procedures, it’s easier to question the results.
Some attorneys complete NHTSA field sobriety test certification. Others will go on ride-alongs with police officers to observe DUI arrests firsthand. Ask if your attorney has done either of these things, and if so how long ago.
#3. What fees am I responsible for?
An attorney may ask for a retainer fee up front or quote you an hourly rate for services. However, you could incur additional fees for secondary lab work, court fees, or accident scene reconstruction. Expert witness testimony is not usually included in the up-front quote, either. In the end, however, attorney fees generally add up to far less than the cost of a guilty plea entered without the help of an experienced DUI lawyer.
#4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
DUI cases are sometimes cut and dry. If yours is one of them, you’ll want to know this up front rather than wasting time and money trying to mount a defense. In that instance, your better strategy may focus more on a satisfactory plea bargain rather than asserting your innocence.
#5. Who will handle the majority of my caseload?
The first attorney you meet with may not necessarily handle your case. In some instances, another lawyer may perform the bulk of the work. Knowing this up front ensures that you respond correctly to correspondence from others, and if alternate or additional counsel shows up to court, you’ll know whom you’re working alongside.
Have DUI Questions? Contact the Khonsari Law Group Now!
A DUI conviction in St. Petersburg can leave devastating consequences that could last for years. It never hurts to contact an attorney—preferably as soon after the arrest as possible. A consultation with the Khonsari Law Group will give you the knowledge you need to move forward. Email the Khonsari Law Group right away or call (727) 269-5300 to schedule an appointment.