10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Lawyer

Every attorney wants DUI / OVWI clients. Attorneys want these cases because the typical person accused of DUI / OVWI is a normal everyday person.  The typical person charged with DUI / OVWI is not a murderer, child abuser or drug addict.  They are normal people caught up in an extraordinary circumstance.

Most attorneys will tell those charged with DUI / OVWI that there is nothing they can do to fight the charges, but they can help get a good “plea.” Most attorneys take their client’s money, do not provide any valuable services, and then tell their clients “you need to sign this guilty plea if you want to stay out of jail.”

If you are accused of DUI / OVWI you want an attorney who will fight for you and not just roll over and take a plea.  In order to help you choose an attorney, here are 10 questions you should ask any attorney before you hire them to defend you against DUI / OVWI.

1.  Do you know what is going on with my driver’s license?

As Attorney Marc Lopez has made DUI / OVWI cases the focus of his legal career, he is very familiar with how a DUI / OVWI affects a person’s license to drive.  Unfortunately, it is not a simple process.

A person with an Indiana driver’s license is treated differently than a person with an out-of-state driver’s license.  Your license will be treated differently than if you gave a breath test than if you refused.  If you blew below a .08 and are still charged with a DUI / OVWI (this happens!) your license may not be suspended at the initial hearing but will be suspended if you plead guilty or are found guilty.  The way a person’s license is affected by a DUI / OVWI arrest and conviction is complicated.

Generally, if you are arrested for a DUI / OVWI, your Indiana driver’s license will be suspended immediately.   People call and e-mail Attorney Marc Lopez every day asking, “how can I be punished just for being arrested.  I am innocent until proven guilty.”  The bottom line is that the State does not look at a suspension as a punishment – it is simply taking away your “privilege” to drive in Indiana.  This is completely not fair and the exact opposite to how many other states operate.

The length of the suspension the judge recommends to the BMV to imposes when you are arrested is 180 days.  These 180 days can be shortened, or lengthened, by a Court Order.  Indiana does offer a specialized drivers licences for those facing charges, but not all judges will grant a specialized drivers license.  These options may not be available to everyone, depending on driving history and criminal history.

If you are convicted of a DUI / OVWI, that conviction will count towards you being a Habitual Traffic Violator (HTV).  Whether a person is a HTV depends entirely on their BMV history.  If a person is found to be a HTV then they will lose their license for either 5 or 10 years.  The BMV determines who is a HTV, not a judge.

None of the this begins to address the consequences if you have prior DUI / OVWI convictions.  If you are charged with a DUI / OVWI, be sure your attorney knows what is happening in regards to your driver’s license.  If you are speaking to an attorney that does not know exactly what is happening with your driver’s license, can you be sure they know DUI / OVWI law?

If you would like to discuss how a DUI / OVWI arrest or conviction will affect your driver’s license, call attorney Marc Lopez right now at (317) 489-9611 or contact him by E-Mail.

 2. Have you ever taken an OVWI / DUI case to jury trial?

The answer should be nothing less than “Yes.”  Not all cases are appropriate for jury trial. But if yours is a case that should go in front of a jury, you don’t want to be your attorney’s first.  Also, prosecutors keep track of attorneys who go to jury and who never go to jury.  When attorneys regularly go to jury trial they typically receive better pleas from prosecutors.

Attorney Marc Lopez has successfully defended clients in multiple jury trials. E-Mail Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

3.  Do you have any experience taking a DUI / OVWI case to bench trial?

The attorney should respond with a “Yes.”  A bench trial is the most common type trial in the state of Indiana.  In a bench trial there is no jury, only the judge acting as both the judge and the jury.  When there is purely a legal issue this type of trial is most often appropriate. It is important for your attorney to have experience taking a case to bench trial because it shows that he will still fight for you, even if a jury trial is inappropriate or otherwise impossible.  If your attorney has never taken a DUI / OVWI case to bench trial, it is a sure sign he or she is simply going to try to have you sign the first guilty plea presented by the prosecutor.

Attorney Marc Lopez regularly takes DUI / OVWI cases to bench trial.   E-Mail Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

4.  Do you know which field sobriety tests are standardized?

When you ask most attorneys this question they are likely to try to change the subject, try to convince you that it doesn’t matter or try to dodge the question in another manner.  Do not accept anything less than the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the Walk and Turn and the One Leg Stand. It is important for the attorney to know the names of the tests if he is going to begin the process of fighting them.  These three tests are designed for the average person to fail, even if that person is sober.  Additionally, these tests are not scientific as they have never been peer reviewed, among other significant problems.   If the attorney doesn’t know these tests you need to find another lawyer immediately.

5.  Have you completed the Standard Field Sobriety Training Practitioner’s Course?

The answer should be “Yes.”  This is the same course police officers are given when they are in the academy learning about impaired driving.  It is in this course the police officers learn of the three standardized field sobriety tests.  These courses are available to everyone, but most attorneys do not take the course because they have no true intention of fighting the charge.   If your attorney is going to fight the charges he needs to know what the officer is basing their opinion on and how that officer got to that opinion.  Your attorney needs to have gone to the training course.

Attorney Marc Lopez has not only completed the Standard Field Sobriety Training Practitioner’s Course, he has also undergone refresher training.   E-Mail Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

6.  Have you ever kept a breathalyzer or blood test from entering into evidence at a trial?

The answer needs to be “Yes.”  Many attorneys wrongfully believe that if there is a breath test or blood draw you must plead guilty.  This is incorrect.  If there is a breath test or blood draw your attorney must do everything possible to suppress this evidence.  This takes work.  It involves deposing the officer, visiting the department of toxicology in Indianapolis, and reviewing various protocols.  Most attorneys do not go this extra mile.  Make sure the one you hire doesn’t sell you short.

Attorney Marc Lopez has successfully kept evidence of breath and blood tests out of trial.   E-Mail Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

7.  Are you a member of the National College of DUI Defense?

The answer needs to be “Yes.”  The NCDD is a national organization of DUI / OVWI lawyers who are dedicated to sharing information regarding these cases on a national level.  In addition to daily e-mails regarding cases that are going on across the country, there is a knowledge bank of information readily accessible to members.  This is all in addition to an annual DUI / OVWI seminar held on the campus of Harvard University each summer.  Membership into this organization is exclusive and two members are required to sponsor any new member.  Membership in the NCDD is a sure sign you are dealing with an attorney who knows what he or she is doing.

Attorney Marc Lopez is a proud member of the NCDD.   E-Mail Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

8.  Do you have any former experience as a DUI / OVWI Deputy Prosecutor?

Again, the answer needs to be “Yes.”  Not all counties have prosecutors assigned to handle solely DUI / OVWI cases. In Marion County, only a small handful of attorneys can claim the honor of being a DUI / OVWI prosecutor. As one of those few, Attorney Marc Lopez handled hundreds of these cases.  It was there he learned how to spot weaknesses in the State’s case, understand the full ramifications of a DUI / OVWI charge and conviction on a person’s driver’s license.  By understanding how the State will present its case on a given DUI / OVWI case, Attorney Marc Lopez knows how to truly and persuasively defend these cases against the State.  Attorney Marc Lopez knows the law today because it was his full-time job to know the law while being a DUI / OVWI Deputy Prosecutor.   E-Mail Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

9.  Have you completed continuing legal education specifically on DUI / OVWI cases within the past year?  Within the past six months?

The answer needs to be “Yes.”  The law of DUI / OVWI is constantly changing.  Your attorney needs to keep up with theses changes or they will likely offer bad advice.

Attorney Marc Lopez has spent more than 100 hours in the past few years learning more about DUI / OVWI, including how to attack the science and how to better argue these cases to juries and judges.   E-Mail Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

10.  Are you affordable?

Attorney Lopez’s fees are very affordable.   E-Mail Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

Attorney Marc Lopez represents individuals accused of drunk driving in the Indianapolis, Indiana area.  He is a former Prosecutor with the Marion County Prosecutor’s office and was assigned to the OVWI Unit.  Call Attorney Marc Lopez today at (317) 489-9611 or contact him through e-mail. Initial Consultations are always free.

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