Hiring a DUI attorney to help you with a criminal charge like DUI— is a very different experience than shopping for anything else. For starters, it’s a rather negative experience to begin with. Shopping for a new car is fun and enjoyable. Shopping for someone to help you stay out of jail is not fun or enjoyable. Also, hiring an attorney for a time-sensitive criminal case adds an urgency not typically present in shopping for anything else. Here are some considerations and some tips for hiring an Oregon DUI attorney/lawyer:
- When doing broad or general DUI research online, keep in mind that information from other states will not likely apply in, say, Portland. State laws vary wildly with regard to DUI offenses, as do the procedures and penalties. The hourly fees and retainers of attorney also vary wildly between states, and the rates and retainers also vary between rural and metropolitan areas. Oregon’s DUI diversion program also means that there are fewer dedicated DUI attorneys in Oregon (i.e. the vast majority of Oregon DUI cases are eligible for a dismissal, so there are fewer attorneys needed to try these cases than in many other states). However, if your case is a repeat offense, the consequences of a conviction can be quite serious so hiring a dedicated DUI attorney will be critical.
- Remember the famous words of wisdom: “You get what you pay for.” This is true when hiring an attorney. An attorney’s retainer and hourly rate is almost always a refection of their experience level and skill. Also, most attorneys charge by the hour and therefore more time spent or work performed on your case means more attention to detail. While it may be very tempting to hire an attorney who will work for a fraction of the rate that other comparable attorneys are charging, they are often lacking experience or cutting corners.
- Consider the layout of the greater Portland metro area. Hiring an attorney in Beaverton or Lake Oswego to represent you in downtown Portland may cost you more than hiring an attorney in downtown Portland to represent you in downtown Portland (assuming the attorney charges for travel time, and most do). Hiring an attorney in Salem to represent you in Wilsonville may be less expensive than hiring an attorney in Portland to represent you in Wilsonville (because the attorney in Salem may charge a lower hourly rate, and the travel time may be very similar). This is not to say that you should be penny wise and pound foolish, but it’s at least something to consider. Also, consider how easy it will be for you to visit your attorney’s office to review and discuss police reports, and sign paperwork. Also, it is very common for there to be an Implied Consent license suspension while the DUI case is pending, so you need to consider how you’ll get to your attorney’s office in the event your license is suspended. Is their office on a MAX line or bus route, or will you need to take a cab or otherwise get a ride from Gresham to Hillsboro?
- Get a couple of names and numbers, leave a couple of messages, and don’t just hire the first attorney to return your call. This is common sense, but it can sometimes be lost in a panic when you just want someone– anyone– to help you quickly. The fact of the matter is that good trial attorneys are busy. They do not sit at their desks all day. They are in court or administrative hearings, fighting for their clients. If there’s an attorney that has what your looking for, make the effort to schedule a consultation.
- Speak with the attorney you’re considering by phone or meet with the attorney in-person as soon as possible. Most communication is nonverbal and you’re going to pick up on an attorney’s experience level, professionalism, and even confidence by tone of voice and body language. Hiring the right attorney for you is a more nuanced decision than, say, just picking an auto mechanic based on their website or street signage. You need to find the right fit for your case.
- Ask any attorney you speak with or meet with the following questions:
- What is your background and experience level as it relates to DUI defense?
- How much time do you spend in court, in motion hearings, and in trial?
- How many DUI trials have you handled as lead counsel?
- Are you a member of any specialty organizations dedicated to DUI defense?
- Do you make use of private investigators and/or expert witnesses, and if so, how often?
- How long do you think it will take to resolve my case
- What do you think my case will cost total?
- What are some likely outcomes of my case?
Most Oregon DUI firms– including Romano Law, P.C.– do not charge for initial consultations. You therefore have nothing to lose and everything to gain by scheduling a consult.
Call our office today (503-208-5529)