Around 1.5 million people are arrested each year for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you get a DWI conviction, finding the right lawyer is critical. Judges will not have much patience with someone who is self-represented and inexperienced.
There are a number of factors to consider when looking for a DWI lawyer in Houston.
Here’s where you should start.
1. A Lawyer Who Comes Recommended
Asking trusted friends and family for references is a great way to start. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that can give you a good idea of what your experience will be like.
Was the lawyer honest and easy to talk to? Were they professional? Did they win the case?
Communication is an important part of finding the right lawyer. Find out if all phone calls and emails were returned in a timely manner. You should also ask if there were any hidden fees that were not spelled out clearly when the lawyer was hired.
If you can’t get any references from your friends or acquaintances, look online for a Houston DWI lawyer. Read online reviews for a good idea of what your experience will be like.
When you call attorneys, ask for at least three references you can speak to. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their case, experience, and general feeling throughout the process.
2. A Lawyer With a Good Track Record
It is important to find out if your prospective attorney’s office has handled DWI cases in particular before. Ask them how many cases like yours they have represented, and how many they have won.
It helps to request a description of a case similar to yours with a favorable outcome. What was their strategy?
You can check on the State Bar of Texas website to see if the professional has a history of malpractice or disciplinary action. You can also make sure they are licensed in your area.
3. Meet in Person
Many lawyers offer free initial consultations that can supply you with plenty of useful information, as well as help you determine whether or not they’re a good fit.
Bring all of your necessary paperwork so the lawyer has access to key facts about your case. This may include papers you received from the police, the jail, your bail bondsman, or the hospital. Write down any pertinent questions you may have in advance and bring them with you to the meeting.
Ask prospective lawyers if your case can be kept off the record. Are DWI cases their specialty? What percentage of their current cases are DWI-related?
An in-person visit can also help you get a good idea of the type of law firm you will be working with. Take a look around the office.
Is the space organized? Is the staff friendly and knowledgeable?
Remember that you will be working with your lawyer for a period of time on a very sensitive issue, so it is important for you to feel comfortable.
4. Reasonable Fees
Attorney fees will depend upon whether you accept a plea or take your case to trial. Some attorneys will charge more than others.
Ask a few local lawyers for their fees before you decide to hire someone. You will get a general idea of what lawyers charge in your area for similar services.
Some lawyers may charge more than others, but this does not mean that they are unreasonable. Some may have a reputation for being “powerhouses.”
The key is to hire a lawyer whose fees you can afford while trusting that you have a good chance of a favorable outcome.
It may cost you less to represent yourself or hire a public defender. Yet only experienced lawyers have the knowledge and training to get better outcomes.
Paying a Houston DWI lawyer to represent you is worth the investment. It may also save you money in the long run. This is because it will save you money in fines, fees, and raised insurance rates.
5. A Local Lawyer
A lawyer who is local to the area where your case is being tried will be more familiar with the court that will hear your DWI case. They may even have existing relationships with judges and district attorneys that could play a role in your case.
Don’t look for a lawyer outside your city if you know of an equally qualified attorney in your area. This is true even if the distant attorney has a stellar reputation.
6. Get It in Writing
Get any proposed costs in writing throughout the process. Ask your attorney to outline any anticipated fees at the beginning of the process, and make sure you have written proof.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something in an initial estimate. Ask what each item means, and ask your lawyer to explain them clearly and in detail.
7. Look Out for False Promises
Avoid professionals who promise outcomes that seem too good to be true. Don’t hire someone who guarantees they can win your case. Good lawyers can give you an idea of the hearing outcome, but they can’t guarantee results.
The Right DWI Lawyer in Houston
You need to do your research when looking for a DWI lawyer in Houston. Yet, if you find someone who is local and comes highly recommended, you can feel more secure immediately. You will be on your way toward putting your DWI behind you.
For more information on quality DWI representation in Houston, read our blog today.