Last week I drove from Savannah to Atlanta to go to this DUI seminar. The man on the left is Dr. A.W. Jones., the foremost leading alcohol expert in the world. He’s from Sweden. He works for the Swedish government. Talk about the perfect expert witness for a DUI case. The man in the red tie on the right is Bubba Head, the best DUI lawyer in Georgia. My inspiration for this post comes from these guys and that seminar.
I know I will win. My client feels that, and the jury, and the judge, and the prosecutor. The difference between a lawyer who wins DUI cases and one who loses is attitude. Henry Ford said it best, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” My attitude is that I am a good DUI lawyer. I’m prepared. I know my stuff. I’ve read the cases. I’ve read the file. I’ve interviewed the witnesses. I’m on top of this case. I know it better than the prosecutor. I have confidence. The most important thing: Stick to the goal — I want to win the case.
Never plead guilty to DUI.
Recently, I met a lawyer who pleads about 50 cases a year, and he’s methodical about them. He maybe tries one of twenty. I am not pleased with lawyers who take a case to plead it, regardless of what kind of chance they’ve got to win the case.
Never plead guilty to DUI. Ever. If that’s what you want, you can get another attorney to do it for a lot less money than you’re going to pay me. I will not take on a DUI case unless I believe I’m trying it down the road. I hold strong to my philosophy and I’m not taking a case knowing that I will not try it. I am not about to ruin my reputation by having somebody come in and after a month of fighting decide “Oh I want to plead guilty.” That does me no good. People will hear I’m pleading guilty to things. I’d rather do quality work. An American deserves his day in court.
Preparation makes the difference. I come prepared. I am thorough. I file many motions, study lab regulations, challenge field sobriety and BAC tests, bring an expert, and even appeal when my client’s rights have been shot. I must be better prepared. I go to court with knowledge of the file, knowledge of the law, knowledge of the facts, and knowledge of the defenses. If I’m not better prepared than my opponent, I could lose. The odds in a DUI case are stacked against you by the legislation. This is one reason I will not overload myself with DUI cases, because I know what it takes for me to do a good job. I turn down far many more cases than I take. Far many more. I could make a lot more money if I wanted a volume DUI practice. But, I’d rather hold to my rule that I’m not taking a DUI case knowing that I’ll never try it. And, I only take a certain number of cases a year, because it’s physically impossible to be on trial that much.
A lot of cases look unwinnable at first. Most cases look this way. But the number of cases that are unwinnable is little. I step back. I stay away from it a few days. I come back. I get creative. I ask myself, “What thing have I missed?” I ask my colleagues. I look hard. Whenever you take a chemical test, breath, blood, etc., bring in an expert to challenge the result. If you’re headed to trial, I almost always go for a jury trial. Most DUI cases are not dismissed before trial. But, I spend a lot of time trying to do so. The first thing I look for in a file is “Is there some way I can avoid trial?” Maybe you can talk about sloppy police procedure and get the case dismissed. But, this is not easy to do. The State of Georgia has many opportunities to mess up. But, I’ll only catch it when I explore every one. This takes time and commitment.
I keep my knowledge of DUI law and science up-to-the-minute. I know my subject cold. This gives me the winning confidence. DUI’s are winnable. But, they are hard. DUI is a political crime. Jurors have a much different mind set toward DUI. I am a lot different than just a criminal lawyer. I read just about every DUI publication in the country, and attend about every DUI seminar. I am trying to get a reputation with the prosecutors and with the courts and with other lawyers as being a good, sound, prepared, and professional DUI lawyer.
Three hour initial interview
I block off three hours for the initial interview. I want no interruptions, no phone calls, or anything. I want the client to know that while he or she is here, this is extremely serious. I take the time to really go through an in-depth interview. Most people come in with a negative attitude. They think they can’t win. Then I begin telling them how can the case may be approached and what kinds of defenses are there. No DUI case is an open and shut loser. This way you can come in for an interview and then decide if the fee is something you can come up with.
I listen. I try and pick up on how you present your story. What kind of a witness will you make? I’m sizing you up. Are we going to get along? Am I comfortable with you? Are you comfortable with me? Are you telling the truth? These are the initial impressions I’m feeling out. Do you feel good about yourself? Want to fight the case? Do you feel you’ve been wronged? Do you think you have a defense? And if you do believe these things, how serious are you? Because once we get going here, I’m committed to winning. If you think this is not something that you want to make an investment in, it’s best you go to another DUI lawyer.