Choosing a Pittsburgh DUI Attorney
Your first DUI charge can be stressful. Having a competent Pittsburgh DUI attorney by your side can make all the difference, but if you’ve never before encountered the criminal court system you may be overwhelmed by the process — and by how to find the right lawyer for your case.
A DUI is a criminal offense, meaning that the trial will move much more quickly than a civil trial. The rules of procedure are also different, so you should hire an attorney who focuses on criminal matters and has prior experience obtaining successful results in DUI cases. If you hire a general practice lawyer or a lawyer who focuses on an area of practice other than criminal law, he or she may take too much time to learn the ropes and mount an effective defense on your behalf.
Hire a Reputed Criminal Defense Lawyer With DUI Experience
Most attorneys offer free initial consultations. You can treat this consultation like giving the attorney a job interview. When you try to pick out an attorney to help with your DUI case, the first thing you should consider is the extent of that attorney’s DUI experience. You should ask what sort of defenses he or she has used in the past to defend DUI cases and what the outcomes were.
Next, you should ask how the attorney would approach the defense of your case. For this, you need to answer the attorney’s questions honestly and come prepared with documents that will give the attorney a good idea of what your case entails, such as:
- The summons that outlines the charges against you
- The police report of your case
- Any other documents such as bail papers or a search inventory of your vehicle if the police performed a search
How a Pittsburgh DUI Attorney Can Defend You
The best defense strategy depends on the facts of your case—that’s why it’s so important to come to the initial consultation with enough information. One of the most effective strategies is to have the evidence against you suppressed, which means removed from the prosecution’s case.
If an officer pulls you over without having any basis to suspect you are breaking the law, any evidence he or she collects from the traffic stop could be suppressed from your case. With the exception of DUI checkpoints, the police must have a valid reason for pulling you over in the first place, such as a broken tail light, swerving, or speeding.
If the officer gives you a field sobriety or breathalyzer test, he or she must have probable cause to do so. This means that the officer must detect signs of intoxication such as the smell of alcohol, glassy eyes, or slurred speech—but all of these signs may have innocent explanations. If the officer lacked probable cause to give you a test, the results may not be admissible at trial.
Similarly, any tests—whether field sobriety, breath, urine, or blood—must be administered according to strict procedures. Your attorney can closely review the available evidence and obtain testimony from the people involved in the testing to determine whether any mistakes were made.
If you tested above the Pennsylvania legal limit during a blood or urine test at the police station or medical facility, it does not necessarily mean you were over the limit while driving. A person’s blood alcohol levels may continue to rise some time after drinking. So if you were only slightly over the limit during the test, you may have been under the limit while you were still driving.
And there is no law against being above the legal limit unless you’re behind the wheel. If there is no other evidence that your driving was impaired, such as speeding or swerving on the road, being below the legal limit may be a defense to your DUI charge.
Hire a Pittsburgh DUI Attorney Who Feels Right For You
It may not be realistic to expect an attorney to come up with a full defense strategy at the initial consultation, but you should be wary of an attorney who cannot offer any solution besides a guilty plea. While an option in some cases, a guilty plea should only be a last resort after every possible defense has been considered.
If the attorney seems overwhelmed, stressed, or distracted, it may be a sign that he or she is either too busy or not capable of handling your case. If you get a bad feeling from the attorney, it could mean that he or she shouldn’t handle your case.
The consequences of a DUI conviction are severe and can include fines, jail time, the revocation of your driving privileges, and the obligation of attending a substance abuse program. In some respects, when you hire Pittsburgh DUI attorney, you are putting your future in his or her hands.
At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, we work hard to protect the rights and freedoms of all of our clients. If you want to talk to one of our attorneys, you can call us today at (412) 281-2146 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.