One of the scariest aspects of going to court for the average person is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and judges all have expertise in the legal process, but you are the one with legal consequences hanging in the balance. This can be intimidating.
However, with a skilled and experienced DUI attorney by your side, you don’t need to go into the process of fighting a DUI blind. Your DUI defense lawyer can equip you with the peace of mind that comes with knowledge and careful preparation.Here are five questions to ask your lawyer before you get to court:
1. “Have you been successful for your clients?”
You’ll want to learn whether the attorney you’ve decided to work with has a track record of excellence for clients, and is specialized in handling DUI cases in your area. Follow-up questions might focus on the percentage of the attorney’s cases that go to trial, win in court, get dismissed, or are bargained down to “wet reckless.” Also, try to learn how many years the attorney has practiced DUI law and how many cases like yours the attorney has handled.
2. “What should I hold onto?”
It’s likely that your attorney will want you to retain all tickets, citations, and papers the police gave you after the DUI arrest. You should keep them in a safe place and never record notes on them or alter them in any way. Some of these documents could be critical evidence used by your attorney to challenge specific aspects of the procedure around your arrest.
3. “What are the best and worst case scenarios I can expect in my case?”
No attorney can guarantee a verdict of innocent or promise the best possible outcome. However, you will want to work with an attorney who can offer you a functional understanding of the charges you’re facing and the range of outcomes they’ve achieved for clients in previous cases that are similar to yours. The attorney may also be able to give you some sense of the most probable outcome in a DUI case like this.
4. “Are breathalyzer test results still banned in Massachusetts court?”
When Judge Brennan issued his January 2019 ruling that—for the time being—effectively bans the use of breathalyzer evidence in Massachusetts OUI cases, it became much more difficult for the state to prove your guilt. This ban is only in effect until reforms in the Office of Alcohol Testing (OAT) have been completed and they have demonstrated that their breathalyzer machines meet a high legal standard for accuracy and reliability.
5. “Should we go to trial?”
The specifics of your case could mean that there are opportunities to have it dismissed or thrown out before you get to the point where you must defend your innocence in a court trial. Once your attorney has reviewed the details of your case, it’s also likely that he or she will have valuable advice on the pros and cons of a plea deal, alternative disposition, or traditional court battle for your unique situation.
These five questions are a great starting point for your conversation, but you should bring a complete list of every question and concern you have. This will help your attorney to ensure that you feel fully prepared before your case goes to court.