There are literally hundreds of Massachusetts DUI attorneys to choose from. These attorneys may make many promises and have very polished resumes. So it can be very difficult to make your decision on whom to hire.
Choosing the right DUI attorney is especially critical given what is at stake in a drunk driving case. If you are convicted, you could face serious jail time. In addition, a conviction can stick with you for life, making it difficult to find a job and even get a loan for your home.
Here are ten red flags you should look out for when choosing a DUI attorney:
- Promises and Guarantees of a Specific Result. Be wary of an attorney who guarantees that you will beat the charges. While this may be exactly what you want to hear, no attorney can promises with 100% accuracy that you will be exonerated. Instead, look for an attorney who provides a balanced and realistic expectation of the DUI process.
- General Practice Attorney. Massachusetts drunk driving law is a very specific body of law. So you do not want an intellectual property attorney or a family attorney representing you in your case. This is true even if your cousin highly recommends the attorney and even if the attorney has several Harvard degrees. Instead, choose an attorney who specializes in drunk driving defense.
- Rookie Attorney. All attorneys have to start somewhere. However, you may not want your case to be the test case of an attorney straight out of school. While starting attorneys may offer lots of energy and exuberance, they may lack real-world legal experience. Instead, choose an attorney who has successfully defended DUI cases and knows the inside and outside of the law.
- Bait and Switch. Oftentimes, you will interview with an experienced attorney only to later discover that his rookie associate will be doing the work on your case. To avoid this, ask the attorney you talk to who will actually be performing the work. If it is someone else, you will want to talk to that attorney.
- Way-Too-Busy Attorney. Defending a DUI case is a very serious matter and you may understandably be nervous going through the process. As a result, you will want to be able to reach your attorney and ask him questions. Ask your attorney to provide his cell phone number and ask if you can text him questions. You do not want the most qualified attorney, if he never has time to answer your questions or address your concerns.
- Mystery of How Much You Will Have to Pay. While you may not get an exact quote of how much your DUI defense will cost, you should have a general idea of what you will be charged with and the fees involved. You should get fee arrangements in writing.
- Over the Phone Interviews Only. You will want to meet personally with your attorney before hiring him. Choosing the right attorney is a very personal decision and you will want to talk to him in person.
- No Consultations. A prospective attorney should take the time out to discuss the basics of your case with you. While the attorney cannot be expected to provide a detailed breakdown on the first meeting, you should have the opportunity to evaluate the attorney’s knowledge and ability at a consultation.
- No References. The best way to judge a prospective lawyer is to talk to clients who’ve hired the lawyer. Ask for references or check user review websites for insight.
- Bad Gut Feeling. Sometimes an attorney will just feel sleazy. You must feel comfortable working with and talking to your attorney. If you feel that your lawyer is untrustworthy and sleazy, imagine what a jury or judge would think.