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How to Get DUI Charges Dropped

The penalties for drinking and driving – known legally as “driving under the influence” (DUI) in many jurisdictions – can be steep. Especially if this is your first offense, you probably want to do what you can to fight the charges and get them dismissed. However, prosecutors are often reluctant to drop DUI charges due to the serious threat to public safety posed by drunk driving.


Hiring an Attorney

  1. Search for a criminal-defense attorney online. Even though you may be eligible to have a public defender appointed, hiring a private attorney may be better for you if you are looking to get DUI charges dropped. 
    • You may also want to ask friends or family for recommendations unless you don’t want them to know about your arrest.
    • If you do look online, the website of your state or local bar association is a good place to start.
    • Look for a free attorney-referral program that will give you a list of area attorneys tailored to your answers to a few questions.
    • Many attorneys who handle DUI cases engage in extensive advertising, which means you might already know a few relevant names. Keep in mind, however, that the best or most affordable attorney for you won’t necessarily have a great ad.
  2. Make a list of possibilities. Ideally you should be able to find at least four or five attorneys that handle DUI cases in your area. Take an in-depth look at each one’s background and experience to narrow your list. 
    • If the attorneys on your list have websites, read them in order to evaluate their backgrounds and experience.
    • You want an attorney who practices in your area, someone who is familiar with the judges and prosecutors. You’re looking for an attorney who has been practicing in your area for several years.
    • You may be able to find information about the types of cases an attorney takes by looking at their website. Look for extensive experience with DUI cases.
    • Check an attorney’s reputation by searching for reviews from past clients. You may be able to find these on general review sites or on social media.
  3. Schedule several initial consultations. Generally it’s a good idea to interview at least two or three attorneys so you can find one best suited to your case. Since most criminal-defense attorneys offer a free initial consultation, this shouldn’t cost you anything but time.
    • You should be able to schedule an initial consultation within a week. If an attorney doesn’t have time to meet with you in the next week (two at the most), they probably are too busy to give your case the attention it deserves.
    • If the attorney has an information form for you to fill out, complete and return it as soon as possible. The more information the attorney has about you and your case, the better able they are to tailor the initial consultation to you and your needs.
  4. Ask each attorney lots of questions. Particularly with a free consultation, you can’t always count on an attorney to cover all the information that’s important to you. Make a list of questions ahead of your first scheduled consultation so you can understand everything pertinent to your case.
    • The types of questions you ask will depend on what is important to you in an attorney-client relationship. If this is your first time hiring an attorney, think about things that would be important to you if you were hiring someone to work for you in any other capacity. The questions you ask here would be similar.
    • For example, if you needed a plumber, you might want to know whether the plumber would do all the work herself or have an inexperienced apprentice doing most of the work.
    • Similarly, if you’re hiring an attorney, you may want to ask them how much of the work on your case they’ll be doing themselves and how much will be done by a paralegal or new attorney who recently graduated from law school.
  5. Compare the attorneys you interview. After you’ve completed your initial consultations, take some time to evaluate and compare the attorneys. This enables you to identify the one most qualified to represent you. 
    • Fees are an important consideration, especially if money is tight. Resist the temptation to select an attorney just because they charge the lowest fee. That person might not be your best choice.
    • Most attorneys are willing to negotiate if you can’t immediately afford their fee. Some may be willing to create a payment plan or even lower the total cost.
    • When choosing an attorney, don’t ignore your gut feeling. If you find one who’s passionate, interested in your case, and who inspires your confidence and trust, they may be your best choice – even if they’re less experienced than others you interviewed.
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