Questionnaire to Ask Prospective DWI Defense Lawyers You are Interviewing

As promised on Tuesday, below is a list of potential questions you can ask a prospective DWI defense lawyer while you are making the difficult, and important, decision on who should represent you in trying to win. You can print copies of this off and take them with you when you visit lawyers, then analyze how their answers lined up:


Some Suggestions on Questions to Ask While You Interview DWI Defense Lawyers
By Mark Stevens

QUESTION 1: How much of your practice is devoted to defending people who have been accused of driving while intoxicated (DWI), aggravated driving while intoxicated (“aggravated DWI”), boating while intoxicated (“BWI”), or related DWI, DUI, and OUI offenses?
A-The answer to this question should be 100%, or close to it.

QUESTION 2: When, where and how did you win your last DWI case?
A: The victory should be a recent one, no more than a week or so old. The answers to this question will naturally vary, but he or she should be able to rattle off a recent not guilty verdict, the name of the court it occurred in, and a thumbnail sketch of the facts and the trial strategy. This result should have been obtained within a week or two prior to your consultation with the lawyer. IMPORTANT NOTE: It is important to clarify what you mean by “winning the case” when you ask this question. Some lawyers may consider “winning” simply “pleading the case out” or getting a reduced charge. Clarify that you want to know when he or she received his or her last NOT GUILTY verdict after a DWI trial.

QUESTION 3: When is your next DWI trial?
A: This should be within a week of your consultation. Most DWI defense lawyers will have at least one DWI trial scheduled within a week or so of your consultation. Ask the lawyer what court it will be held in and go and watch it if you are able. The best measure of a potential lawyer’s performance is how he or she actually performs in Court.

QUESTION 4: Has the lawyer received training in the administration of field sobriety testing? (These are the sidewalk gymnastics the police ordered you to perform on the night of your arrest).
A-The answer to this question should be yes. Most DWI cases turn on how the defendant performed on field sobriety tests. Your lawyer should have received the same training as the arresting cop to level the playing field for you. Most committed DWI defense lawyers will have received more training in field sobriety testing than the officer who arrested you. Ask your lawyer what certificates and trainings he received. These will usually be hanging on the wall of his office.

QUESTION 5: Has the lawyer been certified to operate and maintain the breath testing machine used in your state?
A-The answer to this question should be an EMPHATIC “YES”. Mistakes occur during the administration of breath testing frequently. These occur due to operator error and/or machine error. BE SURE AND ASK THE POTENTIAL LAWYER TO SEE HIS CERTICATE THAT HE IS CERTIFIED TO OPERATE AND MAINTAIN THE BREATH TESTING MACHINE THAT WAS USED TO TEST YOU! If he or she has been certified, the certificate will be on the lawyer’s wall. Don’t let the police be the only one at your trial who know how this machine works! The most experienced DWI defense lawyers may have some of these machines in their offices.

QUESTION 6: How much advanced training in DWI defense have you had this year? In the past 3 years?
A: If the lawyer is committed to DWI defense he or she will have several hours of DWI specific training every year to stay current in the best defenses available to you. He or she should be able to tell you roughly how many hours of training and what the training is in.

I hope this has been of help to you.

Mark Stevens
5 Manor Parkway
Salem, NH 03079

COMING SOON: Specific Questions to ask Prospective BWI Defense Lawyers regarding Boating While Intoxicated ("BWI") Cases

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