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If you’re facing a DUI charge for the first time, you probably have never had to research and hire a good attorney to represent you before. Comparing and choosing the right DUI attorney may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By asking a few important questions, you can make the right decision and hire an attorney to help you through this frustrating and scary time. Here are five important questions you definitely need to ask before hiring a DWI attorney.

Question #1 – Do you have experience in the DUI field? If so, how much experience do you have?
Before deciding on the right DUI attorney for your case, asking about their experience in this field is important. When inquiring about the lawyer’s experience, you should ask about the number of years they have in the field as well as the volume of cases they have handled. Since this field can be complex, you want someone on your side that has experience and expertise in this type of law. This way you can be sure you hire someone who can best serve your interests.

Question #2 – What are your rates and what representation is included?
A DWI attorney may charge you a flat fee for their services or they may charge you an hourly rate. If you decide to work with an attorney that charges you an hourly rate, find out how many hours the case is expected to take. You may want to ask for an agreement on the minimum and maximum amount of hours that can be billed to you.

When discussing the rates the lawyer charges, make sure you also ask what representation is included with the rates quoted to you. Two different processes must be navigated when you are charged with a DUI. You’ll face both a criminal and administrative process. Both may require hearings and you need to ensure that the rates you pay will include representation at the DMV and in court. Keep in mind, an additional fee may be charged if the case goes to trial.

Question #3 – Do you have a 24 hour email and phone call return policy?
Dealing with DUI charges is hard enough without having to wait for days to hear from your DUI attorney. It can get extremely frustrating to leave phone messages or send emails with no timely reply. Many lawyers have legal secretaries or paralegals to answer the phone for them, which is fine. However, you should always hear back from someone from the firm regarding your case within 24 hours of emailing or calling. Ensure the lawyer you choose adheres to this policy so you’re not left in the dark.

Of course, these are only a few important questions you should ask of a DUI attorney before making the final hire. When you’re faced with DUI charges, it’s easy to make a quick decision because you’re stressed and under extreme pressure. Make your decision carefully, using these questions and other considerations to make the best possible choice.

Note: This is not official legal advice, so please contact your own legal council before making any legal decisions.

Martin Abraham is a law student and blogger from New Mexico where he recently needed to consult a DWI attorney in Albuquerque for a school project.