Most people charged with DUI have never had the need to hire a lawyer for anything other than a real estate transaction. The single most important decision you will have to make after you leave the jail is who to hire to defend you. Can you call the South Carolina Bar Association and ask for a list of “Certified DUI Defense Specialist”? Unfortunately you can’t. South Carolina does not certify any “specialty” practice areas in the criminal defense arena. Technically, any lawyer with a license to practice law in South Carolina is generally permitted to practice in any criminal court, though there are basic requirements to defend a death penalty case.
While a DUI first offense is prosecuted in a Summary Court, the nature of the evidence typically presented and the consequences that follow a conviction make it anything but a simple matter. How do you arm yourself with the best defense? You ask questions. What experience does the lawyer have defending DUI cases? What type of law practice does the lawyer have; is it a DUI defense practice or a general practice? What is the lawyers experience in defending DUI cases at trial? What training has the lawyer had in the areas of field sobriety testing, breath-testing, or blood testing? Can the lawyer answer my questions about DUI law, implied consent law, administrative license issues, and the consequences I am facing? Can the lawyer explain the process of going from arrest to disposition?
The answers to these questions can tell you a lot about who to hire and who to not hire, but it is also important to evaluate the way you get the answers. Is the lawyer willing to sit down face to face with me and focus on my case and answer all of my questions or am I talking to a non-lawyer assistant?
You can use your real estate lawyer, your divorce lawyer, your personal injury lawyer, your bankruptcy lawyer. Your primary question should not be who can I use, but rather who should I use to give me the best shot at winning this fight.