If you were recently arrested and charged with driving under the influence, or DUI, in the State of Nebraska you are likely worried about the outcome of your case. As you probably already know, the long-term consequences of a DUI conviction can be considerable. In fact, the actual sentence handed down by the court may be the least of your concerns as the non-judicial consequences are often far more troubling. Along with a license revocation, you may face increased insurance rates for years to come, lost employment opportunities, and a wide variety of other negative consequences that may negatively impact your life for years to come. The smartest thing you can do at this point to (hopefully) avoid those consequences is to retain the services of an experienced Nebraska DUI attorney. Choosing the right attorney for you and your case can be a frustrating and confusing process, particularly if you have never had need of a DUI attorney before. To help you choose the right DUI attorney for your case, consider asking the following five questions:
- How long have you been practicing criminal law? Time practicing does not always equal competence; however, as a general rule the longer an attorney has been practicing criminal law the better your odds of winding up with an attorney who understands how the prosecution works, can see potential defenses, and likely knows everyone involves on a first name basis. All of that, in turn, increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
- How much of your practice is devoted to DUI cases? If an attorney says he/she handles “criminal defense” that can cover a wide range of different types of cases. At their most basic, all criminal prosecutions are handled the same. The rules of evidence and procedures that must be followed are all the same; however, DUI cases are somewhat of a specialty within a specialty when it comes to the practice of law. Driving under the influence cases typically include some rather complicated scientific evidence, for example, that other types of criminal prosecutions do include. For this reason, it helps to find out how much of an attorney’s practice is focused on DUI cases. Once again, it is a generality but as a rule the higher the percentage, the more capable and experienced the attorney will be.
- What do you see as the weaknesses in the State’s case? Both the arresting officer and the prosecuting attorney likely tried to make it sound as if a conviction is a foregone conclusion. Keep in mind, however, that it is their job to secure a conviction. Of course the prosecutor wants to intimidate you into agreeing to take a plea agreement early on because that means much less work for the prosecutor. No case, however, is without a weak spot. Sometimes that weakness is enough to avoid a conviction. Knowing what the weakness in the state’s case is should make you feel better about your chances for a favorable outcome. More importantly, by asking an attorney to tell you weaknesses he/she sees you will get a feel for how competent and experienced the attorney is.
- What defenses do I have? The follow-up question to “What weaknesses do you see in the state’s case” is “What defenses do I have?” They are not always directly related though. Sometimes, for example, your defense lies in a mistake the arresting officer made or an error in the results of your chemical test. Other times, however, your defense may be based on things such as what you drank and when you drank it in relation to the time you were stopped (the “Rising Blood Alcohol” defense). The important thing is to know what the attorney sees as your potential defenses.
- What are the potential penalties if I am convicted? Although you can look up the statute and find out what the basic penalty range is for your offense, there are a number of factors that can increase or decrease your potential penalties if convicted which is why asking a DUI attorney is important. Moreover, an experienced DUI attorney can provide you with critical insight into what a specific prosecutor is likely to offer you in a plea agreement or a specific judge is likely to sentence you to if you are convicted at trial.