Things to Know When Hiring a Missouri DWI DWI Attorney
You will need an attorney if you have recently been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But if you’ve never hired one before, you may not know how to find one. Here are the basics on how to find and hire a Missouri DWI attorney.
Under Missouri DWI laws, the penalties for drunken driving may include a suspension of your driver’s license even for a first offense. For subsequent offenses, the penalties become increasingly, especially for offenses within five years of each other. This is in addition to potential imprisonment, fines, court costs, and DWI counseling.
With so much at stake, you should not attempt to represent yourself. The steps to finding a St. Louis DWI attorney are simple enough:
- Gather names of recommended lawyers in St. Louis
- Interview the attorneys
- Hire the best one for you
Gathering Names of Missouri DWI attorneys
You may not realize it, but you already have several ways of finding attorneys. You can ask your friends, family members, and work associates if they have ever hired a Missouri DWI attorney. If they have, you’ll want to find out what they thought of their lawyer. Ask:
- Was the lawyer’s advice helpful?
- What were the lawyer’s strengths? And weaknesses?
- Was your case resolved the way you wanted?
- Would you rehire the lawyer if necessary?
- Was your lawyer ready to take the case to trial if necessary?
If you’re reluctant to discuss your recent arrest with people you know, you should know that www.MoBar.org offers a service that can connect you with a Missouri DWI lawyer near you.
Setting up the Interviews
After getting a name or two, call the St. Louis DWI lawyers and ask if they will sit down with you for a brief chat. Many lawyers in Missouri will meet with prospective clients to introduce themselves and learn about your case.
These meetings are a good opportunity for you to learn about the attorneys’ background and experience, get some feedback about your legal options and, most importantly, determine which lawyer you want to hire.
Driving while intoxicated is also referred to as driving under the influence, or DWI, in Missouri. But whatever you call it, you’ll want your St. Louis DWI lawyer to have experience representing clients who have faced charges similar to your own.
To find out, you can ask the attorneys you meet how long they have been criminal defense lawyers, how long have they worked Missouri DWI cases, and how many DWI cases they handle each year.
It’s also to your advantage if your attorney is familiar with courthouse personnel and even the prosecutor in your case. Ask how often the attorney has appeared in the courthouse where your case will be heard.
Options & Strategies
The St. Louis DWI attorneys will likely have many questions for you regarding your arrest. They want to understand what kind of evidence the prosecution may have against you. You may have strong DWI defenses if the police officers based their arrest on field sobriety tests, an alcohol breathalyzer, or witness testimony. Strategy, however, is specific to each case and cannot be generalized here,
Your legal options, on the other hand, are clear. You have three choices:
- You can plead guilty;
- Try to negotiate a plea bargain, which would have you pleading guilty to a lesser charge; or
- You can plead not guilty and take your chances in court.
Go over each option and its consequences with the lawyers you meet.
At this point, you may be wondering how much a lawyer might cost. Rates vary from lawyer to lawyer, but in general, DWI lawyers in Missouri use one of two billing methods: the hourly fee and the flat fee.
These fee structures work just the way they sound. Lawyers who prefer an hourly fee will bill you for the actual time they work on your case. Those who charge a flat fee have one price for their services.
However, neither fee covers everything. You will be asked to pay for many related legal expenses. These expenses may include court fees, photocopying, a paralegal’s time, an investigator’s fees, and travel expenses, to name a few. Make sure you get an estimate for how much these other expenses might total.
Finally, don’t leave your first meetings without knowing what forms of payment the lawyers accept and whether they offer any payment plans.
If your intuition is trying to tell you something about the St. Louis DWI lawyers you meet, you would be wise to listen to it. Beyond the skills and experience an attorney brings, the human element is important. Do you like the attorney? Do you see yourself getting along with him or her? You may work together for several months, so it’s OK to entertain these questions.
Notice whether the lawyers are patient with your questions. Do they put you at ease? Would you trust the attorney? With which attorney do you feel more comfortable?
Hiring a St. Louis DWI Attorney
When you have finished your last interview with the attorneys on your list, it’s time to hire one to represent you. Think back about experience, strategy, legal fees, and your feelings. How do the attorneys you interviewed rate in these areas?
The feedback you receive should guide you to your best choice in a St. Louis DWI attorney. Once you have hired him or her, you can face the rest of your prosecution.
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