Monday, March 14, 2011

Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Minnesota DWI Lawyer.

You may argue that only a Minnesota DWI Attorney could love the proverb that intones - the individual who serves as his or her own lawyer has a fool for a client.  But, having logged as much time in the court room as I have - next to death, taxes and the Vikings not winning the Super Bowl - there really is no other certainty more certain than that. If you go into court without an attorney - you're probably going to end up make a fool out of yourself. 

Granted, you do have the right to "go it alone" - that's guaranteed by the Constitution. However, for those of you who can appreciate the precariousness of that course of action - yet, still have some trepidation or fear of putting your fate into the hands of someone else - I have a couple of suggestions that you may want to consider when looking for a Minnesota DWI Attorney

Here are 5 things to consider:

First, hire a Criminal Defense Attorney who concentrates his or her practice in the area of DWI & Drunk Driving defense. All too often, people see the word "Attorney" and believe that that person knows everything under the legal sun.  All too often, this is not the case, just like a foot doctor is not going to help you with an eye problem and vice-versa.

For me, this truth is often revealed at family get togethers where cousins I haven't seen since the Carter Administration pick my brain on issues related to their divorces and long lost uncles who want to know if I can help them sue Arbys because they slipped on some Horsey Sauce and hurt their backs.  Frankly, I have to admit - even if I did want to help them - I couldn't do so effectively because I don't specialize in Family Law or Personal Injury Law. Sure, I have some basic idea about what they're asking for --- but to have their needs fully serviced, the best I can (and should do) is recommend someone who practices in those areas on a regular basis.

Therefore, when seeking out your Minnesota DWI/Drunk Driving Attorney - start with someone who actually defends people charged with DWIs.

Second, think about what qualities in an attorney are most important to you. Ask yourself this, do you want a Twin Cities DWI Attorney who is young, less expensive, and who is willing to make up for a lack of experience through hard work? Or, do you want someone who is well-established, with a long list of credits and credentials? Do you want someone to be available to you - to answer your questions when you want them answered? Or, do you want someone who has been on the other side of these cases - say a former prosecutor - who knows the government's schemes and motivations?

In my opinion, most - if not all - Minnesota Drunk Driving Lawyers pretty much know the same stuff; however, all too often the best of the bunch are also the busiest - and they also tend to charge the most. Plus, nowhere to my knowledge has it been shown that the more you pay a lawyer, the better the representation you'll get.

I got into this business because I saw that far too many people were either going it alone because they were deemed too "rich" to qualify for a public defender --- and/or --- they weren't getting their monies worth when it came to retaining an attorney. Trust me, you can get competent, experienced legal representation - at a price that won't break the bank.  Don't be fooled by fancy websites, cute ads or by price alone.  When your out to hire an attorney, you have to be sure that he or she understands that you're the boss and that what you want to see happen with your case is what they are actuaually fighting for. Meet him or her and decide if you have confidence in that person and their skills - and that you feel comfortable with their analysis of your case.

Third, choose a lawyer that can clearly explain your situation and your legal rights. Any lawyer worth his or her title should be able to simply and clearly explain the criminal charges against you, your legal rights, what the government has to prove in order for you to be found guilty. He or she should also be able to explain the possible consequences you could face - and not just the criminal penalties. Your attorney should also be able to explain any collateral consequences you could face - like the loss of your driver's license, vehicle, etc.

In my experience - directness and honesty are the best policies. I've been on both sides of these case - as a prosecutor working for the government and now defending clients.  I have seen it all - and although no two cases are ever the same - I am aware of what can and will happen if you're convicted. 

Fourth, discuss fees - and don't be discouraged to bargain. Like the boss that you are - know this - you have a right to ask how much a Minnesota DWI Attorney will charge you before deciding to hire him or her. Some lawyers charge a flat fee - but then tack on additional costs if you choose to exercise your right to go to trial.  I never do that. After taking the time to look at your case, at the initial consultation, I will quote you a price that covers any and all services - that you desire.  If you can't get someone to lock in a price, from the get go --- detailing what that does and does not cover --- then I would suggest looking else where. Additionally, believe me when I tell you --- all prices are negotiable.

Fifth, believe it or not - and it pains me to have to admit this... but it's true - there are some Minnesota DWI cases that just can’t be won (if "winning" is defined as - either being found "not guilty" at trial and/or having the charges against you dismissed.) Now, as we've all become a little more aware of over the past couple of weeks... "Winning!" - as Charlie Sheen has been fond of pointing out - does come in many different varieties. And, although you may not have your case dismissed, an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney can help you to "win" the best possible outcome with the government and before the judge. 

In the end, be smart when you choose your lawyer. Don’t be talked into paying a $4,000 retainer, when your chances to prevail are low to begin with. There are many very qualified lawyers in Minnesota who will represent DWI defendants for an affordable fee.


A conviction for DWI will have longstanding consequences - both for you, your wallet, your family and your future. If you have been charged with Drunk Driving and/or a DWI, it is important that you consider engaging a lawyer as soon as possible. That decision often can (and will) have a serious influence on the outcome of your case. Engaging the right Minnesota DWI Lawyer may prove to be a difficult task. Hopefully you will take into consideration some of the information posted here when making up your mind.

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