Skip to Content

How to choose a DUI Lawyer


In the competitive world of DUI defense in Southern California, it never ceases to amaze me what DUI lawyers will say to get prospective clients to retain them. Many of my clients call a number of attorneys before deciding to retain this firm and I hear stories almost every day relating to other attorney's promises or threats. Some DUI lawyers believe that it is a good idea to inform clients that they are going to go to jail for a very long time unless they retain them. Other lawyers make actual or veiled promises of a dismissal of all charges, without discussing how this can be achieved.

The State Bar of California governs the professional conduct of attorneys in California and sets rules and guidelines for attorney's to follow. In criminal cases, lawyers should not make promises or guarantees of particular outcomes. Lawyers simply cannot do this professionally. Criminal proceedings are uncertain in nature and ultimately, judges and juries decide the outcome of cases, not defense attorneys.

Likewise, DUI lawyers should not threaten that a potential client will face inappropriate penalties such as lengthy jail time unless they are retained, unless this is justified by the facts.

Professional DUI Lawyers will not use scare tactics or make inappropriate promises to get business. When you call a lawyer for the first time, you should expect an honest appraisal of your circumstances. You should be able to get the sense that the lawyer understands your problem and has ideas and tools to address the specific issues in your case. You want your attorney to be confident, but not arrogant. It is understandable that people want to hear that they are going to be fine and that charges will be dismissed, but professional attorneys will tell you that a thorough investigation of your case is necessary before such assessments can be made. The information that you can give an attorney at the beginning of your case is valuable, but only part of what the attorney needs to know.

I am often consulted by people who are upset with their attorney, because they have been misled, inappropriately advised or simply forgotten about. Bad lawyers can and do increase stress and make matters worse. Make sure that you are comfortable with your attorney from the beginning as the selection of your attorney is probably the most important decision you will make about your case.

All experienced DUI lawyers can boast of cases that have been dismissed, charges reduced or jury trials won. Be careful with statistics though, as they can be misleading. You should be aware that defending DUI charges in Orange County and Los Angeles is difficult and is becoming more difficult every day. Do not “expect” a particular outcome.

When interviewing an attorney, you should try not to focus on the likely outcome, but on the attorney's qualifications, experience and reputation. You should ask the attorney how many years of experience they have in defending DUI cases. You should establish whether the attorney is a member of any DUI Defense Associations such as the National College for DUI Defense or California Deuce Defenders. You should make sure that the attorney is familiar with the Court that is handling your case and the prosecutors and judges there. You may even establish whether the lawyer has ever received any State Bar complaints.

At Gold & Witham, our goal is to provide an honest and professional service and to guide your case to it's most successful conclusion, with the least amount of stress. Although we cannot make promises as to particular outcomes, we have the experience and reputation to maximize your chances of getting what you want.