10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a DUI / OVWI Attorney

Every attorney wants DUI / OVWI clients. Attorneys want these cases, because the typical person accused of DUI / OVWI is a regular, everyday person. They’re not a murderer, a child abuser, or a drug addict. The average DUI / OVWI defendant is a normal person caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

Most attorneys will tell you there’s nothing they can do to fight your DUI / OVWI charges, but they can help you get a good plea. Most attorneys will take your money, not provide any valuable services, and then tell you to sign a plea agreement in order to stay out of jail.

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

1.  Do you know what’s happening with my driver’s license?

Attorney Marc Lopez has made DUI / OVWI cases the focus of his legal career, and he is very familiar with how DUI / OVWI charges can affect your license to drive. Unfortunately, it is not a simple process.

A person with an Indiana driver’s license might face different challenges than a person with an out-of-state driver’s license. A person who consents to a certified chemical test will be treated differently than a person who refuses the test. A person who is three times the legal limit for intoxication is going to face more severe consequences than someone who blows a .08. It’s complicated, and all of the details matter.

Generally speaking, if you’re arrested for a DUI / OVWI in Indiana, your driver’s license will likely be suspended before your case is resolved. But wait, you’re probably thinking, aren’t I innocent until proven guilty? How can I be punished just for being arrested? The answer is: Word games. Indiana insists that driving is a privilege and not a right. Because no one has the right to drive, the State can pretend a license suspension isn’t a punishment—it’s simply the withholding of a privilege.

In order to maintain the illusion that you aren’t being punished before you’re convicted, the court has the BMV handle the pre-conviction suspension. When you’re arrested for DUI / OVWI, the judge formally recommends that the BMV suspend your license for 180 days. This administrative suspension can be altered by court order, and if you need to be able to drive, your best case scenario is going to involve Specialized Driving Privileges. The judge has the final word, however, and Specialized Driving Privileges aren’t an option for everyone.

If you’re convicted of a DUI / OVWI, that will count towards you being a Habitual Traffic Violator (HTV),  and your HTV status depends entirely on your driving history. If you make enough mistakes to qualify as HTV, you’ll be suspended for either 5 or 10 years, depending on the specifics. These are administrative suspensions triggered by statute.

None of the this has even begun to address the consequences of prior DUI / OVWI convictions. If you’re facing a DUI / OVWI, be sure your attorney knows how to handle your driver’s license suspension. If you’re speaking to an attorney who doesn’t understand the administrative side of things, what makes you think you can trust them with your criminal charges?

If you’d like to discuss how a DUI / OVWI arrest or conviction will affect your driver’s license, call Attorney Marc Lopez right now at 317-632-3642, or contact him by email.

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

The answer should be nothing short of YES. Not all cases are appropriate for a jury trial, but if your case is, you don’t want your trial to be your attorney’s first. Also, prosecutors keep track of which attorneys go to jury trial and which ones never do. When attorneys are known to regularly go to trial, they typically receive better plea offers from prosecutors.

Attorney Marc Lopez has successfully defended clients in multiple jury trials. Email Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

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

This should also be a YES. A bench trial is the most common type trial in the state of Indiana. In a bench trial, there is only a judge, acting as both judge and jury. When your case turns on a purely legal issue, this type of trial is often most appropriate. It’s important for your attorney to have experience taking a case to bench trial, because it shows they’re willing to 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’s a sure sign they’re setting you up for a guilty plea.

Attorney Marc Lopez regularly takes DUI / OVWI cases to bench trial. Email Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

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

When you ask most attorneys this question, they’re likely to try and change the subject, convince you it doesn’t matter, or dodge the question in some other way. Don’t settle for this. The standardized field sobriety tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn, and the one leg stand. If you want your attorney to fight these tests, they’d better at least be able to name them.

An experienced attorney will already know that these tests are designed to result in failure, even for sober people. These tests aren’t scientifically grounded and haven’t been peer reviewed. If the attorney you’re talking to doesn’t know about these tests, you need to find another lawyer immediately. Email Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

5.  Have you completed the standardized field sobriety testing practitioner’s course?

If you’re facing DUI / OVWI charges, you really want this answer to be YES. The practitioner’s course is the same one police officers are given when they’re in the academy learning about impaired driving. This is where officers learn the three standardized field sobriety tests. These courses are available to everyone, but most attorneys don’t bother, because they have no intention of actually fighting DUI / OVWI charges.

Not only has Attorney Marc Lopez completed the standardized field sobriety testing practitioner’s course, he’s also undergone refresher training. Email Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

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

If this answer isn’t YES, you should hang up the phone. Many attorneys believe if there’s a breath or blood test that indicates intoxication, you must plead guilty. This is incorrect.

If there’s a breath or blood test, your attorney must do everything possible to exclude this evidence. This takes work. It involves deposing the officer, visiting the department of toxicology in downtown Indianapolis, and reviewing various protocols. Most attorneys aren’t willing to 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. Email Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

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

Again, if you’re facing DUI / OVWI charges, you really want this answer to be YES. The National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) is a collective of DUI / OVWI lawyers dedicated to sharing information an professional experience. 

In addition to daily emails about DUI / OVWI cases across the nation, the NCDD provides a knowledge bank of information readily accessible to its members. It holds an annual DUI / OVWI seminar on the campus of Harvard University each summer.  

The NCDD is an exclusive organization, and any new member requires two sponsors. Membership in the NCDD is a sure sign that an attorney is well-equipped to handle DUI / OVWI defense.

Attorney Marc Lopez is a proud member of the NCDD. Email Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

8.  Do you have any former experience as a DUI / OVWI deputy prosecutor?

If this answer isn’t YES, you can do better. Not all counties in Indiana have a special prosecutor assigned to handle DUI / OVWI cases. In Marion County, only a handful of attorneys can claim the honor of being or having been a DUI / OVWI prosecutor. As one of those few, Attorney Marc Lopez handled hundreds of DUI / OVWI cases.  

As a prosecutor, he learned how to spot weaknesses in the State’s case and came to understand the full ramifications of a DUI / OVWI charge and conviction on a person’s driver’s license. Having spent years prosecuting DUI / OVWI cases, Attorney Marc Lopez now uses the experience he gained to assist with DUI / OVWI defense. 

Attorney Marc Lopez considers it his job to know Indiana’s DUI / OVWI laws. Email Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

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

If this answer isn’t YES, the attorney you’re speaking to is out-of-touch with DUI / OVWI law, which is constantly changing. Any lawyer who doesn’t keep up with these is bound to offer bad advice.

Attorney Marc Lopez has spent more than 100 hours in the past few years attending DUI / OVWI seminars, learning how to use science defensively and how to better argue these cases to judges and juries. Email Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

10.  Are you affordable?

Attorney Lopez’s fees are very affordable. Email Attorney Marc Lopez right now.

Attorney Marc Lopez used to be a prosecutor in Marion County’s OVWI unit, and now he represents people accused of drunk driving in the Indianapolis, Indiana area. If you need an attorney who can fight DUI / OVWI charges, call the Marc Lopez Law Firm today at 317-632-3642, or contact him through email. Initial consultations are always free.

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