South Carolina is one of the states you're more likely to get arrested for a DUI in, with arrests topping off at more than 50 in 10,000 drivers. With DUI arrests so common, you might need to know how to get an attorney on the double. The quality of your attorney could impact whether you end up with permanent marks on your record or even damage to your credit.
Here are 5 steps you need to follow when in search for a DUI attorney.
1. Look for Someone Local
When you've been arrested for a DUI, you're going to need help from someone who knows the local laws in and out. Hiring an out of state lawyer for your South Carolina DUI is a bad idea given you'll be needing advice regarding local laws.
Hiring someone nearby means you can also stop in for a visit when you have a question. You'll need to sign papers, meet with experts, and talk over your case. Doing this with someone who is far away can be a struggle, especially if your DUI has resulted in a suspension of your license.
Someone nearby can know details beyond just what's on the books. They can know if a certain officer has been known to trump up charges against other people. They'll know who to talk to about whether or not your case is severe or could be thrown out.
They'll also know things about the area that could be important. They'll know which roads have twists, turns, and hills that could have contributed to a perception you were speeding or swerving.
Hiring local is never a bad idea.
2. Choose For Experience
Finding an attorney to work on your DUI case requires looking at what kind of experience the attorneys in your area have. You need to hire someone who has handled cases like yours before and who has won them.
Hiring a 30-year veteran of working on DUI cases means that you'll be getting someone who can help you win. They'll know the judges and the court system in and out and know what it takes to get the best outcome for your case. However, if they're good enough to stay in business that long, they're going to be pricey.
You can hire someone with less experience if you want to save money. However, you'll have to contend with the fact that they might not be as highly experienced as someone who has been doing the work for longer.
When you hire someone for their experience, ask yourself whether or not your case seems like it'll be simple or not. If you think you've got a difficult case, you're going to need the person with the most experience to get the result that you're looking for.
3. Read Reviews
Checking out reviews online can help you pick out an attorney who will work hard for your case. Looking at what other people have said about your attorney will clue you in on what they'll be able to do for you.
While online reviews should always be taken with a grain of salt, they can reveal patterns of behavior, good or bad. If someone has failed their clients over and over or left them hanging, you should work with someone else. If other people have a very similar case to you and have talked about a positive outcome, then you've found a great attorney to work with.
Every attorney will have testimonials and reviews on their own site but you should look for reviews elsewhere. The kinds of reviews you can find on sites like Yelp or Avvo should give you useful information. The more you know about your attorney before you meet with them, the better equipped you'll be to ask them useful questions.
Don't be alarmed if your attorney doesn't have a lot of reviews. Only a small percentage of clients will go online after working with an attorney to review them.
4. Get Multiple Consultations
When it's time to start meeting with attorneys, don't be afraid to meet with multiple lawyers. If they offer a free consultation, take them up on that offer. Reviewing multiple attorneys is as important as getting a second opinion when you're getting medical advice.
Talking to a few different attorneys can also clue you in on what to expect from your day in court. They'll run you through multiple scenarios, what could go wrong, and what you should be prepared to explain. They'll prepare you for every step along the way and should make you feel more comfortable with the whole process by the end of it.
5. Compare The Costs of Not Hiring an Attorney
While it might seem a little daunting to think about the cost of hiring an attorney, not hiring one could be a serious problem.
A DUI could show up on your credit report. If you're trying to get a loan for college, for a house, or for a car, the amount that you qualify for could be affected by whether or not you got a DUI.
A DUI will show up on your background check. If you're in the midst of applying for a job and your DUI shows up, your potential employer could offer you a lower salary or just not hire you at all.
You never know the adverse ways your DUI could be haunting you.
Knowing How To Get An Attorney is Easy
Hiring a DUI attorney is the easy part. The challenge comes when it's time to put together your defense and figure out what the potential outcomes could be. Once you've decided how to get an attorney, you need to make sure you've got all the facts in order so that you can win.
For a more detailed overview of DUI laws and penalties, check out our guide.