Hiring the right lawyer for you is a little more complicated that adding something to your online shopping cart and clicking a button to check out. There are hundreds of lawyers advertising their DUI case services, but not all lawyers are created equal. In order to find the best choice for your needs, you need to ask some important questions. It may be important for you to hire a lawyer that has the necessary training, education, courtroom experience, and dedication to fight for your rights.
Before you decide who you want to have represent you in court, call a few DUI lawyers, and ask them any questions you may have which are important for deciding on the right lawyer for you. You may want to have a brief phone consultation so that you'll see how the lawyer treats you, and make sure that they will keep your best interests at the center of the lawyer-client relationship.
Some Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Lawyer for an Atlanta DUI
Some questions we recommend asking before hiring an Atlanta DUI defense lawyer will help you learn a little about their experience, their training, and how accessible they will be when you really need them.
Have you dedicated your legal practice to defending people charged with DUIs and DUI-related offenses?
Some lawyers are like general practitioners. They will handle a wide-variety of cases, and only occasionally take on a DUI case. However, if they don't dedicate themselves to DUI law, they may miss out on the latest developments that could affect your case. They may not take the time to undergo the specific DUI training like the police officers do.
By dedicating our professional practice to this area of law, it has allowed our attorneys to learn all about this interesting and important field of criminal law. Additionally, may of our lawyers have been certified in DUI field sobriety testing so we understand how the police officers are supposed to perform these tests, and identify when they did something wrong.
Have you been certified in DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, the same training as for Georgia police officers?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed guidelines for specific field sobriety testing. This includes the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test; the One-Leg-Stand test; and the Walk-and-Turn test. There are specific directions that police officers are supposed to give, specific testing criteria, and specific signals to look for. If the police officers fail to abide by all these guidelines, your test results could be unfairly used against you.
Have you defended DUI cases successfully before a jury?
Of course, all lawyers have to start somewhere. Every lawyer needs their first trial, but you may not want it to be your case that a new lawyer uses to test out their trial skills. Courtroom experience is invaluable. Seasoned DUI attorneys who have represented hundreds of clients understand the types of arguments prosecutors make, how juries respond to police testimony, and how to best represent their client for the best chance of a successful verdict.
We have represented thousands of clients facing DUI cases. This includes successfully having charges dropped before any trial, negotiating a beneficial plea agreement for my clients, and getting “not guilty” verdicts in a jury trial. We will be able to explain the complex world of a DUI case so that you'll know what to expect, and give you all your options so we can make the best decision for you.
Have you taken courses in Impaired Driving Chemical Testing and the Intoxilyzer 5000EN?
Unlike most other types of criminal offenses, a DUI arrest usually involves chemical testing by the police. This could be blood, breath or urine chemical tests to look for the presence of and levels of prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol that can impair a driver's ability to operate a vehicle. While the police and prosecutors find these tests very useful, they are not always 100% accurate. These tests can falsely indicate a driver is under the effects of alcohol or drugs when they are under the limit or sober.
In addition to rigorous legal training, the attorneys at Lawson and Berry have continued to keep up to date on DUI developments including taking courses in impaired driving chemical testing. This helps us understand how different drugs and alcohol can impact a person's body, what the different tests are, what they look for, and how they can report false positives. The Intoxilyzer 5000EN is a specific device for testing alcohol levels. It is important to understand the specific device used in your DUI arrest, to know how it works, how it must be maintained, and how it can give inaccurate results.
Will you represent me before the Georgia Department of Driver Services Administrative License Suspension Hearing?
Your Georgia DUI is more than a criminal matter, it also involves the Georgia Department of Driver Services suspending your license. This is an administrative matter, and does not even depend on you being found guilty. Additionally, you only have 30 days to file for an administrative license suspension (ALS) hearing. Some lawyers may have never handled a DDS administrative hearing.
When a client gets a DUI, we can immediately file for an ALS hearing. We will represent you in the ALS hearing, and in criminal court matters. A suspended driver's license can be a big inconvenience for most people who rely on their car to get them to work, to school, and transport their kids. Presenting your case at an ALS hearing may allow you to fight to keep your license to drive.
Will you be available on nights and weekends, whenever I have a question about my DUI case?
Police don't only arrest driver's for DUIs on Monday through Friday from 9 to 5. The police are out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. If you get arrested for a DUI, you don't want a lawyer who is not available. This extends throughout your DUI until it is successfully concluded. If you have a question, you should be able to get ahold of your DUI lawyer, no matter what time it is.
When you called our number, one of our attorneys will get back to you promptly. We won't wait until the next workday. We am available for my clients anytime, day or night. We understand that a DUI can be stressful, and you have questions or concerns that you need answers to. You will have our number, and our email address so you can get ahold of us whenever you need.
Do you know the police officer, prosecutor and judge in my case?
Knowing the police officers, prosecutors and judges involved in your case can be to your advantage. That doesn't mean that knowing them will get you a better deal, but familiarity with how they work, and what kinds of things they respond to can help predict what a trial might be like so you can be more prepared.
One of the benefits of focusing on DUI defense is that we have become familiar with most of the police officers in the Atlanta area who arrest drivers for DUI. We have had cases before most of the DUI prosecutors, and tried cases before most of the DUI judges. Not only are we familiar with most of the other DUI attorneys in Georgia, but the prosecutors and judges hold my professionalism in high regard.
Do your former clients give you an “excellent” rating?
What past clients say about a lawyer can be a good indicator of how they will represent you in your DUI case. Each and every client should be the priority of any DUI lawyer. The focus should be on getting the best outcome possible, whether that is a plea deal, having charges reduced or dismissed, or getting a “not guilty” verdict at trial. At the resolution of each case, the client should walk away believing their lawyer did everything possible to get the best result.
Richard Lawson and Kimberly Berry have a 5 star rating from their former clients. Numerous clients have reviewed our services as their defense lawyer, and if you want to know what to expect, look at some of the reviews. We also have excellent reviews from other lawyers who have seen the dedication I give my clients, and my professionalism in court. Further, Richard has a 10.0 Rating from AVVO.
Make sure that before you choose an Atlanta DUI defense lawyer, you ask these important questions, and any other questions you may have. A DUI can affect your job, your family, and even your livelihood.
DUI Defense Lawyer in Georgia
If you have been arrested for a DUI anywhere in the Atlanta Metro Area, make sure your lawyer has the experience, the training, courtroom success, and the dedication to be your advocate. Make sure your lawyer will represent you at the ALS hearing, and in any criminal proceedings. You can contact our office anytime, to ask us any questions, and for a consultation on your case.