You’ve probably been giving a lot of thought about which DUI lawyer you’ll choose to handle your case.
That’s smart, because drivers who hire a lawyer have much higher rate of success than drivers who don’t, it’s obviously a smart decision.
But how do you know which one to pick?
There are thousands of lawyers in Tampa, and hundreds of criminal defense lawyers. But of all those lawyers, only a handful have dedicated their practice to helping drivers accused of a Tampa DUI.
That’s because DUI defense work (when you do it correctly) isn’t easy to do.
And that's why it's important that you know how to spot an unqualified DUI lawyer so you don't make the expensive mistake of hiring the wrong lawyer to help you.
Experienced DUI lawyers call these types of lawyers “dump truck” lawyers, because they treat you and your DUI case the same way a dump truck treats garbage... They just carry you to court, and "dump" you out into a guilty plea as quickly as possible.
Inside the courtroom, dump truck DUI lawyers are easy to spot because they just plead their clients guilty at an early stage in the proceedings, often before they’ve even received all of the information about the case. These lawyers don’t file many (or any) motions to suppress, they don’t go to trial, and they don’t fight all the way for their clients.
Unfortunately, if you spend any time in the courtroom, you’ll see a lot of Dump Truck lawyers handling DUI cases.
But how do you spot the dump truck lawyer BEFORE you go to court and become a victim?
Obviously, a good DUI lawyer can cut down on some of the time required to handle your DUI case because they’re already familiar with the issues in DUI cases and won't need to reinvent the wheel researching issues like breath testing defenses, the problems with the field sobriety tests, or caselaw research on the legality of your stop.
But they still need to invest time in your case.
Time to do pre-trial investigation of the issues affecting your performance on the field sobriety exercises...
Time to watch (and re-watch) the DUI video...
Time to investigate the medical and environmental issues affecting your breath test...
Time to dig into the CAD reports and other information that was generated “behind the scenes” in your case...
All of these things require time.
And the easiest way to determine how much time the DUI lawyer will invest in your case is with their fees.
Of course not.
You'd want him to interview you for a long time, to conduct tests, to re-run those tests, and to spend as much time as required before he made any type of diagnosis.
So why should you trust an attorney who quotes a fee after only a few minutes on the phone?
DUI is serious.
There are hundreds of variables that can affect the strength of your case. There is no "one size fits all" solution to a DUI.
That's why an experienced DUI lawyer will want to meet in person—or at least conduct a lengthy phone consultation—before giving you an estimate. In fact, you should expect your initial consultation to last an hour or more.
But a dump truck lawyer doesn't need to spend that much time in their consultation.
They know they’ll just be pleading you guilty, so they don't have to worry about investing a ton of time in the diagnosis stage - they just say “Cancer!” and quote you a fee, even if what you really have is just the flu.
Don't trust them. Don't trust a DUI lawyer who gives you a diagnosis without talking to you at length about the issues in your case.
I rarely find the “Get Out of Jail FREE” card in a client's case in the first 5 or 10 minutes of talking to them. Sometimes it happens, but it's rare. Usually the key to their case is found very late in the conversation, often with what the client thinks is a trivial fact about their case. DUI professionals find those types of case-winning solutions because we invest the time to learn everything we can about our clients' cases, and kick over every rock we can find to uncover the solution to your case.
You don’t see the best heart surgeon in the country taking on hundreds or thousands of patients each year, do you?
If a DUI lawyer has too many cases, they can’t invest as much time as they should in each client’s case.
Proper DUI defense work requires preparation.
A DUI lawyer can't do that if they're handling too many cases.
The only solution they have to keep things under control is to get your case over as quickly as possible and get you to enter guilty plea.
You could do that yourself... Why hire the lawyer?
DUI professionals don't do that. We handle smaller numbers of cases so we spend more time on each one.
Don’t just ask how many cases they’ve tried, but also ask how many cases they’ve gotten dropped on the morning of trial, too.
It’s not unusual for an experienced DUI lawyer to get your case dropped on the morning of trial. For example, I had a string of 4 jury trials in a row where the prosecutors dropped the DUI case completely (called a “nolle prosse”) before we even picked the jury.
I'd spend the weekend preparing for trial, walk into the courtroom on Monday morning ready to go to trial, only to have the prosecutor tell the judge, “Nevermind, your Honor... The State is dropping the DUI case.”
The reason they do that when a DUI professional is involved is because the prosecutors know that an experienced DUI lawyer can identify all of the problems with the case and can turn those problems into “reasonable doubts” that the jury will use to return with a verdict of “NOT GUILTY.”
Dump truck DUI lawyers can't do that, because they won't invest the time to be prepared and ready to attack the prosecution's case. They won't even let the case get close to a possible trial, because they're afraid it might mean they’ll need to spend more time than they budgeted on the case. Instead, they'll convince you to plead “guilty” at the pre-trial conference.
Which DUI attorney will REALLY handle your Tampa DUI case? (The answer may surprise you!)
Which DUI attorney will REALLY handle your Tampa DUI case? (The answer may surprise you!)
It’s not cheap to be a DUI professional.
Here's a quick idea of what's required if a DUI attorney wants to stay on top their educational requirements each year.
FACDL’s Blood Breath & Tears Seminar (2 days)
($355.00 registration + hotel + travel + minimum 2 or 3 days away from the office)
Florida Bar’s Masters of DUI program (1 day)
($250.00 registration + hotel + travel + minimum 1 or 2 days away from the office)
National College for DUI Defense’s Winter Session (3 days)
($495.00 registration + hotel + airfare + minimum 4 or 5 days away from the office)
National College for DUI Defense’s Summer Session at Harvard Law School (3 days)
($1500.00 registration + hotel + airfare + minimum 5 or 6 days away from the office)
NACDL’s DWI Means Defend With Ingenuity (3 days)
($799.00 registration + hotel + airfare + minimum 5 or 6 days away from the office)
These aren't just one-time expenses, either.
DUI law is constantly changing. What worked yesterday won't necessarily work tomorrow.
That's why DUI professionals make this type of investment in their education every year (and that that doesn't even include the investment that a DUI lawyer needs to make in membership fees, books, manuals, and time required to stay on top of the latest developments in DUI defense.)
Dump truck lawyers don’t make that type of investment in their education.
Why would they? It doesn't take a great deal of knowledge or experience to walk you up to the front of the courtroom and plead “guilty.” A monkey could do that.
You deserve better than a monkey, don’t you?
How can I say that it's worse to hire a dump truck lawyer than to not hire anybody to help you?
Easy. The money that you spend on a dump truck lawyer is wasted. If all they do is walk you into court and plead you guilty, they didn't do anything to earn the money. You'd be better off taking the money and spending it on court costs or DUI school rather than a dump truck lawyer. At least then, you'd get some value out of the money.
DUI cases are serious. If you're convicted, not only are you facing fines, license suspension, and a possible jail sentence — you're also stuck dealing with the “hidden costs” of a DUI (FR-44 insurance), which can easily climb into the tens of thousands of dollars.
The worst investment you can make in your DUI case is hiring an unqualified “dump truck” lawyer.
If you hire a DUI professional who can get your charges reduced, and you can avoid the FR-44 insurance requirements, you could easily save more than $25,000 by avoiding the increased insurance costs.
When you hire a DUI professional, you'll have a caring, dedicated attorney helping you every step of the way.
Unlike a dump truck attorney, a DUI professional cares about you and the outcome of your case. DUI professionals take personal pride in their win/loss records and their track record of successful outcomes.
If you or someone you care about has been arrested for DUI, you should NEVER hire a dump truck lawyer.
If you're going to hire anyone, you should ALWAYS hire a DUI professional to handle your case. Hiring a trusted DUI professional to handle your case is affordable, and the quality representation you'll receive will be worth every penny.
If you want your best chance of avoiding a DUI, call an experienced Tampa DUI attorney today.
The Wilcox Law Firm
620 East Twiggs Street, Suite 304
Tampa, Florida 33602
Call today to schedule your DUI Defense Strategy Session
You will be okay, and you will get through this... We promise!
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