DUI or driving under influence is becoming an increasingly common criminal offence which involves persons driving motor vehicles under the effect of alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medication.
A driver can be convicted of DUI when he/she is found with blood alcohol content exceeding the legal levels i.e. between 0.05% and 0.08% (depending on the jurisdiction). An intensified category of the offense may prevail in certain jurisdictions when the blood alcohol exceeds 0.12%.
DUI lawyers are highly-trained legal professionals whose jobs entail providing representation to various clients.
If you’re serious about becoming a DUI lawyer, here’s what you need to know.
To become a professional DUI lawyer, it is important for the individual to have earned a bachelor’s degree, a law degree and passed the BAR exam in the state he/she is looking to practice in. It is also advised to take up internship or clerkship opportunities with reputed law firms specializing in handling DUI cases while still in law school.
It is critical to the career of a lawyer to keep up with the updates and amendments to laws in his area of practice. This is why a lawyer is a learner for life. Continuing education can be extremely beneficial for DUI lawyers as doing so helps them stay well-informed, maintain their licenses, and keep their skills honed.
What DUI Lawyers Do
A DUI lawyer is a criminal defense advocate who has specialized in handling DUI/DWI cases. More often than not, such a public defender deals with DUI cases. A DUI lawyer focusses on certain specific DUI laws that are applicable in the state in which he/she practices.
The most important tasks of a DUI lawyer include explaining the charges to the client, suggesting the best course of action to be taken, and representing the client in court, should the need arise. Apart from that, a DUI attorney takes care of the administrative work involved as well.
It is the DUI lawyer’s job to protect the rights and the interests of the client. Even if the client chooses to plead guilty in court, the lawyer can attempt to get several of the charges reduced or even dropped. These discussions, however, take place before the courtroom trial starts.
A DUI lawyer may advise that both the involved parties enter into a plea bargain or a sentence bargain. He can file a motion to overthrow his client’s statements, in case the latter is arrested. Further, he can arrange for an evidentiary hearing in order to discover the evidence the prosecution intends to use against his client.
The lawyer participates in the process of jury selection during the trial. He gathers credible witnesses and investigators who can help him defend his client. Apart from that, he can also reveal discrepancies in the charges levelled or the police procedures that were used to arrive at them.
It is crucial that a DUI lawyer is well-versed with the laws of the state in which he practices. Also, he should have eloquent communication skills as these come in handy at the time of negotiating with the prosecution and/or fighting for the client’s interests in the court. At the same time, he needs to possess excellent organizational skills as there is a lot of paperwork and other details to sort through.
Aside from being a graduate, a DUI lawyer in the US should have a law degree from a law school approved by the American Bar Association. These law schools provide rigorous classroom training and instructions, and offer several opportunities to prospective lawyers to gain practical experience.
For many law schools, it is mandatory for law students to complete their internship before graduation. Moreover, all states mandate aspiring DUI lawyers to pass a state-level written bar examination to earn their licenses to practice law.
Thanks to the growing numbers of DUI cases, employment opportunities for DUI lawyers is expected only to grow. An increase in drunk driving cases over the last few years is thought to become a key driver in the demand for DUI lawyers in the future.
A hopeful DUI lawyer should expect to face stiff competition as it is only the lawyers with a sound academic background and strong experience who will land the best opportunities.
The average annual salary of DUI lawyers varies on the state they practice in, employer, qualifications, experience and the demand for their skills. A good lawyer can hope to do very well in this field, with a progressive rise in the pay package upon gaining considerable experience.
A career as a DUI lawyer can be rewarding and fulfilling for those with a strong leaning towards providing legal advice and representation to those in need. In order to be successful in this field, lawyers need to have a concrete understanding of DUI laws and the legal ramifications of being involved in a drunk driving case/episode. Good problem solving skills, an eye for detail, analytical thinking, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, confidence to interact with different kinds of clients and other legal professionals, and patience are essential personality traits of an effective DUI lawyer. If you can check all or most of the above boxes, you can expect to have a bright legal career as a DUI lawyer
Robert J. Kerr is a top Chicago-based criminal defense attorney at Law Office of Robert Kerr, LLC. He concentrates not only in criminal defense but also in DUI defense, drug crimes, sex crimes and civil rights. His aggressive approach helps his clients protect their rights and he is always ready to provide timely information and accurate advice to them.