DUI Lawyers in Atlanta, GA
Charges of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are serious. If Georgia police arrest you for drunk driving, you will need a Georgia DUI lawyer. But if this is your first time in the criminal justice system, you may not know how to find one. This article can help.
Under Georgia DUI law, the possible penalties for DUI charges are a fine of at least $300, at least 10 days’ imprisonment, at least 40 hours of community service work, completion of a Georgia DUI alcohol or drug use risk reduction program, and probation. This is no time to try to represent yourself.
Charges of driving under the influence are also called driving while intoxicated, or DWI, in Georgia, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, OWI, and operating under the influence, or OUI.
It’s understandable if, at times, the criminal justice system seems like a foreign language. This article will give you the basics of what you need to know to find the right Georgia DUI lawyer to defend you.
On the surface, it seems simple enough. To find the right attorney, simply get the names of one or more Georgia DUI lawyers, conduct some interviews, and hire one. But there’s a lot to know at each step of the process.
Finding a Georgia DUI lawyer
There are several ways of locating some Georgia DUI lawyers. You can check with friends, family members, and work colleagues to see if they have ever hired a DUI lawyer. If they have, you’ll want to know what they thought of the experience. Did they think their lawyer did a good job? Were they happy with the results? Would they hire the same attorney again if necessary?
You may contact the attorney yourself, or he’ll follow up with you in 24 hours or less.
Evaluating a Georgia DUI attorney
When you have a name or two of a DWI lawyer, call them to set up your first meeting. Most DUI lawyers are willing to meet with you briefly, so you can get to know one another and discuss your case.
At these meetings, you will be able to learn about the lawyer’s background and experience, go over your legal options and, most importantly, determine whether you want to hire one of them.
A lawyer’s background is important to know. Ideally, your attorney will have represented many other Georgia clients facing drunk driving charges like your own.
It’s also beneficial for you to have a lawyer who has defended clients in the same courthouse where your case will be heard. A lawyer with a good reputation among courthouse personnel and the prosecuting attorney’s office can be invaluable.
Options and strategies
The Georgia DUI lawyers will probably start the meeting with a lot of questions for you, so they can understand the circumstances of your arrest and the evidence against you. You’ll want to discuss your legal options and possible strategies.
Unless the charges against you are dropped, you can plead guilty, ask for lesser charges by way of a plea bargain, or plead not guilty and take your chances at trial. Each path has its consequences. Make sure you review them with the lawyers you meet.
Strategy is always case-specific and cannot be generalized here. However, you’ll want the attorneys’ opinions about your best lines of defense. For example, you may have some DUI defenses if the police officers in Georgia used field sobriety tests, an alcohol breathalyzer, or witness testimony.
How much a Georgia DUI attorney may cost is sure to be among your concerns. It’s a topic you’ll want to raise at the first meeting.
In general, DUI attorneys in Georgia use one of two billing methods: the flat fee or the hourly fee. They work just as they sound, paying for legal services either for one price or by the hour.
However, a lawyer’s legal fees are only one part of your legal tab. You will also have to pay for related expenses, such as photocopying, a paralegal’s time, travel expenses, an investigator’s fees, and court fees. Ask the attorneys for an estimate of how much the other expenses might total.
Rates among Georgia DUI lawyers can be competitive. The speedy nature of the criminal justice system, however, may not allow you time to shop prices. Some attorneys may be willing to reduce their fees, but only if you inquire before you hire someone. Once you have hired a lawyer, they will not renegotiate their fees.
Finally, don’t walk away from a first meeting without knowing what forms of payment are acceptable and whether the lawyers offer any payment plans.
It’s OK to judge a lawyer based on your personal feelings. This is someone you may work with for several months. You’ll want someone who is patient with you, who earns your trust and confidence. Ask yourself if you were comfortable with the attorneys as you meet. When it comes to subjective criteria, trust your gut.
Selecting a Georgia DUI lawyer
When you have finished interviewing the last Georgia DUI attorney on your list, it is time to select one to represent you. Consider the subjects this article has outlined: experience, strategy, legal fees, and how you felt about each attorney.
If you only met with one but feel the attorney meets your criteria, your decision is not difficult. But if you can’t decide between two or more lawyers, ask them for the names and contact information for a few of their past clients.
Call the former clients to get some first-hand feedback about what it was like to work with the attorneys. Did they put up a rigorous defense? Did they offer good advice? Did their strategy work? Would they hire them again if they ever needed a DUI lawyer?
When you narrow down the field to your very best candidate in a Georgia DUI lawyer, you have found your attorney.