How do you find the right DWI lawyer?
Hiring the right DWI lawyer is critical to the success of your case. Many attorneys in Minnesota hold themselves out to be DWI lawyers, but are not. Here are some pretty basic questions you should ask:
1) What Percentage Of Your Practice Is DWI Defense?
The answer should be more than 50%. Any less than that and the lawyer simply dabbles in DWI defense. Because of the complex scientific principles involved, and ever changing laws in Minnesota, an attorney must commit to learn and keep up to date on them. Would you go to your family doctor for brain surgery? No. Then why would you trust a lawyer who only dabbles in DWI defense to handle your case?
2) How Many DWI Jury Trials Have You Had?
This is important. In today’s legal system, well over 99% of cases settle (they don’t go to trial), but you still need to be able to trust that your attorney has the skill and experience if your case goes to trial. It is generally accepted that the attorneys who go to trial the most, get the best results for their clients.
3) What Is The Total Cost Including Trial And Filing Fees?
Most criminal defense attorneys charge a “flat fee” this is done so that you know exactly what the cost for the defense will be. Be wary of lawyers who charge hourly or tell you that the total fee is too complicated to determine until the evidence has been seen. An experienced DWI lawyer who has handled hundreds of DWI cases will have a very good idea how much the case will cost. You wouldn’t buy a car without knowing how much it will cost, so you shouldn’t hire a lawyer without knowing the total cost.
4) Do You Guarantee Results?
If the lawyer says yes, or makes promises about the outcome of your case, don’t trust them. Under the rules of professional responsibility, no lawyer can guarantee results because there are simply too many variables involved. They include who the prosecutor is, the judge and the facts of your case. The best guarantee a criminal defense lawyer can make is that they will try their best on your case.
5) Do You Have Any Formal Training With Breath Testing Machines?
Many “DWI lawyers” have never even seen an Intoxilyzer 5000 and if so, how can they cross-examine the police officer? Only a select few DWI Defense lawyers have committed to spend the time and money to become Intoxilyzer 5000 technicians. The only criminal defense attorney outside the Minneapolis/St. Paul area who is a certified Intoxilyzer 5000 operator is Jason Kohlmeyer, of Rosengren Kohlmeyer Law Office. (Note: the Datamaster is coming soon to Minnesota and will replace the Intoxilyzer 5000 within 12 months).
6) Do You Have Other Attorneys Available To Answer Questions And Help If You Are Unavailable or Trial?
Being a trial lawyer involves being out of the office, a lot. If you hire a law firm make sure that the firm is a real firm with other DWI defense attorneys who can answer questions and fill in, in case of emergencies.
7) How Often Do You Appear In Front Of This Judge?
Many attorneys say they will go anywhere to handle a DWI case, but it’s important to know who the Judge is and their philosophy regarding DWI cases. Some judges are known to be prosecution-friendly, while others are known to be more lenient at sentencing. You do not want your lawyer not knowing who the Judge is.
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