Getting charged with Driving Under the Influence is a serious crime that has very significant consequences. A DUI interrupts everything in your life and its affects range from your family, criminal record, driving record, personal finances, even to your current/future employment prospects. Moreover, the Washington State Legislature passed legislation in the most recent session that will increase the punishment on offenders and make the consequences more permanent, making the choice of proper legal representation all the more important.
What Would I Look For in My Attorney?
If you were to ask me what I think is the single most important thing to look for in an attorney, it would be someone who will zealously advocate on your behalf throughout all stages in court proceedings. Having effective representation means having a competent attorney who is devoted to learning about the area of law that they practice. So the first thing I’d look for from a prospective DUI attorney is whether or not they are dedicated to learning the science and methodology of proper DUI defense, and the best way of making that determination is by asking: are they a member of the National College for DUI Defense?
Competent and Knowledgeable
An effective attorney is one who learns how to do their own job but also police officers. Members of the NCDD are required to attend a seminar once every two years to stay current on new developments in the field including technological advancements and defense strategies. This includes learning the proper administration of standard field sobriety tests according to Federal guidelines; functionality of the instruments utilized to test an individual’s sobriety; as well as the proper evidentiary standards for lab record keeping. The NCDD helps a legal practitioner establish a minimum level of competency by ensuring that the attorney is kept abreast of the developments in their field.
Active with local courts
However, in addition to having the knowledge necessary to practice criminal law in the subfield of DUI defense, an effective criminal defense attorney knows how to form productive relationships. Every district has its own local rules and staff, so a good attorney is one who is familiar with all of the pertinent local courts, prosecutors, and judges because they have worked to establish those relationships. Establishing effective working relationships with the other side is key to criminal law defense because they enable an attorney to provide the best available information to you and in due course, to help you decide how best to navigate your case.
Finally, I look for how long and how much of an attorney’s practice has been devoted to criminal law and DUI defense. Those who have substantively worked in this field will have acquired the knowledge and formed the personal relationships necessary to leverage the best outcomes on behalf of their clients. I would look for an attorney who has worked against the other side long enough that the prosecution knows that they don’t want to try the case against this lawyer.