If you have been charged with a DUI offence, including Impaired Driving, Over 80, Refusal, or Care or Control, hiring an effective DUI lawyer is essential to advancing the best possible defence. This is probably the most important decision you will make in defending the case, and it can feel quite daunting. And with so many DUI lawyers to choose from, how can you be sure you’re making the right decision?
Lawyers are not allowed to claim to be “the best”, and there is no defined measure to tell which lawyer is “The Best”.
In most places in Canada, lawyers are not even allowed to claim to be an “expert” or “specialist”.
The Federation of Law Societies of Canada, Model Code of Professional Conduct, for example, states as follows:
4.3-1 A lawyer must not advertise that the lawyer is a specialist in a specified field unless the lawyer has been so certified by the Society.
A claim that a lawyer is a specialist or expert, or specializes in an area of law, implies that the lawyer has met some objective standard or criteria of expertise, presumably established or recognized by a Law Society. In the absence of Law Society recognition or a certification process, an assertion by a lawyer that the lawyer is a specialist or expert is misleading and improper.
If a lawyer does advertise themselves to be an expert, they are likely in breach of their professional code of conduct in DUI’s (or any other area of practice). Be very skeptical of such claims.
This makes finding the right lawyer that much more difficult.
While there may not be a clear answer for which DUI lawyer is “the best”, there are some indicators you can look for to narrow the field.
Look for a DUI Lawyer with Experience Defending DUI Cases
DUI defence is a highly technical and complicated area of law. It is important to ensure you hire a lawyer with the necessary knowledge and experience in this area in particular. Things to consider when choosing an impaired driving lawyer include their experience, seniority and success rate. It is useful to consider whether your lawyer has a focused practice in criminal law, and impaired driving law in particular.
On this point, you should ask the lawyer for following:
- How many DUI cases has the lawyer handled in their career? This will demonstrate their experience with this practice area.
- How many DUI cases does the lawyer have on the go at any given time? This will demonstrate how current their experience is, and how focused their practice is on DUI defence.
- How many DUI cases does the lawyer win. Success rates often vary between locations, depending on the quality of the police investigations, the prosecutors in the area, and even the composition of the judiciary. Compare their win rate to other lawyers who defend DUI’s in the area, or to statistics on DUI conviction rates.
A lawyer’s strong focus on this area of law will also have secondary positive effects such as a solid reputation as a competent DUI lawyer among judges and prosecutors.
Look for a DUI Lawyer with a strong focus on DUI’s Beyond just Defending DUI Cases in Court
To ensure the lawyer you are thinking of hiring really knows what he/she is doing, you should review what other involvement the lawyer has with DUI’s beyond just defending clients in court.
Some examples of involvement you can expect from a DUI lawyer are as follows:
- Attending DUI lectures/conferences.
- Presenting at DUI lectures/conferences
- Publishing written materials about DUI’s
- Features in the Media on DUI topics
- Mentoring students/lawyers/judges on DUI cases/topics
Be sure to pay close attention to how many, how often, and how recent those engagements have been, as that will tell you how current the lawyer’s knowledge base is.
Look for a DUI Lawyer with Positive Online Reviews
Online reviews are a source of information about a lawyer that is independent of the lawyer.
You don’t just have to take the lawyer’s word about whether they are good at what they do. You can see what other people are saying about the lawyer in online reviews. This will give you a better sense of that lawyer’s abilities, and his or her capacity to assist you through the difficult process of defending your DUI.
Reviews can sometimes be misleading, however, so be careful on putting too much emphasis on them. For example, if there are only a few reviews available, whether they mostly good or mostly bad, it’s difficult to draw any conclusions from them.
When there are bad reviews, look to see if the lawyer has tried to respond and address the client’s concerns. Even if most of the reviews are good, look to see how recent they are, and that they are about DUI’s.
Reviews will often tell you not only whether the lawyer is doing a good job for his/her clients, but also whether they are providing quality customer service along the way.
There is more to effective representation than just winning. Client’s want to be heard, understood, and taken care of. Often past client experiences will tell you what level of service and customer care you can expect from the lawyer.
Look for a DUI Lawyer that Meets your Budget
Although it’s not technically part of a lawyer’s qualifications, it’s difficult to have a discussion about what it means to have the best DUI lawyer without considering budget.
If money is “no object” as the saying goes, this section is not as relevant to you. Even so, nobody likes to overpay for a service, or be taken advantage of. Be sure to inquire about the fees and ask the lawyer to justify them.
For most people, lawyer fees are a significant concern. As such, choosing the best DUI lawyer involves choosing a lawyer that also “best” meets your budget.
If the DUI lawyer you speak to is a sole practitioner, your options will be limited. However, many law firms have a whole team of DUI lawyers working together. You may not be able to afford the top DUI lawyers at the firm, but there may be many other cost-effective options available. In those cases, ask about the training, mentorship and oversight available at the firm to ensure that even if you proceed with a more cost-effective DUI lawyer, you still benefit from the collective experience and skillset of the firm.
Our Team of DUI Lawyers
Our team of DUI lawyers, for example, has a strong focus on impaired driving law. With more than 10,000 impaired driving and DUI cases defended, we have a solid understanding of this area of practice. We have appeared at all levels of court on DUI issues, and have presented at numerous legal seminars on various topics dealing with impaired driving to students, lawyers, and even judges. We offer varying levels of experience and fee ranges.
To learn more about our lawyers, it is helpful to review our independent lawyer profiles. The lawyer bio’s should tell you a lot about what you can expect. One of the most important things about us is that no matter who you hire, we all tend to work as a team, so our clients benefit from our collective experience.
There are many competent and qualified lawyers in this area of criminal law. It is important to make inquiries with several law firms to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Whenever possible, it is helpful to have an in-person consultation with the lawyer/law firm you are considering hiring as well. Regardless of the reputation, experience, or reviews, it is always best to meet face to face and to judge for yourself.
To learn more about whether we are the right team for you and how we can help, please contact our team of DUI defence lawyers to conduct a thorough review of your situation.