Are you looking to hire the best Orange County DUI lawyer for your case? How do you pick? Can you trust the reviews on AVVO or Yelp? What about all the ads that pop up on google? What about all those letters showing up in your mail box? And how did they know I got a DUI anyway?
I have been an Orange County DUI lawyer for almost 20 years and here is my honest advice to help you out.
Do I even need an Orange County DUI lawyer?
If you have been arrested or cited for a DUI in Orange County, California then the answer is definitely yes, you NEED an Orange County DUI lawyer.
I tell every potential client that calls in this situation to get the best lawyer they can afford. This does not mean that you need to hire me, but it does mean that you should not try to handle your DUI case on your own.
California DUI laws are extremely complex and the penalties for DUI go up every year. Even on a first time offense you face potential jail time and the loss of your California drivers license.
If you don’t hire me, please hire another experienced Orange County DUI lawyer. If you can’t afford to retain a private attorney, you should request the court to appoint the Orange County Public Defenders Office to help you with your case the very first time you appear in court.
Most people who make the mistake of representing themselves in court end up losing their license for an extended period of time and/or serving jail time as the result of a probation violation.
How do I pick the best Orange County DUI lawyer?
The first place to check before hiring any California lawyer is the California State Bar. Step 1 is to make sure that the Orange County DUI lawyer your are considering is an active member of the bar and licensed to practice law in California.
This may be surprising to you, but there have been cases over the years of unlicensed “lawyers” collecting fees from clients. There are also times that a real lawyer becomes inactive due to a disciplinary issue or failure to pay dues or submit continuing education requirements. If the lawyer you are considering hiring has a history of discipline with the California State Bar, take a closer look before making any decisions.
Once you have verified active state bar membership, take a look at the lawyer’s credentials. Where did he or she go to law school? How long ago did they graduate?
A good Orange County DUI lawyer will have substantial experience with DUI cases and substantial experience in Orange County. This is important because local practices vary significantly from county to county. To get the best results, you need someone who has been there many times before.
Can you trust online reviews and ratings?
Online reviews and ratings can be very helpful, but they can also be misleading. I know some excellent DUI lawyers with terrible online marketing skills. These lawyers will do an amazing job in court but they don’t spend much time working on their website or they might not even have one. On the other side of the fence, I know some business savvy marketers that aren’t very good in the courtroom. A slick website and some positive online reviews may be the result of nothing more than a good online advertising budget.
The best strategy here is to do your homework. Don’t just look at the AVVO score or YELP star rating and assume that an Orange County DUI lawyer with a rating of 9.5 is better than a lawyer with a rating of 8.7. Go beyond the score and read some reviews. Do they sound like they are from legitimate clients? Or do they appear to be canned ratings? Look for lawyers that have consistently received strong reviews over an extended period of time.
Also keep in mind that one or two bad reviews does not make a bad lawyer. Criminal defense is hard work and in some cases even the best lawyer can’t keep you out of jail. If you see a negative review look closer to see if the client had legitimate complaints about the lawyer’s work, or if they were just frustrated with a difficult situation. Reviews and ratings are part of the equation, but don’t use them as a substitute for your own judgment.
Make a Personal Connection with your DUI Lawyer
The best way to determine who will be the best Orange County DUI lawyer for your case is to speak with the lawyer directly. Always ask to speak with the lawyer who will be handling your case in court. Get to know your lawyer first before you make a decision.
Ask lots of questions and make sure the lawyer is able to answer your questions and educate you about the process. If your Orange County DUI lawyer is going to represent you properly, you will be working with him or her for about 6 months so you need to feel comfortable working with this person over an extended period of time. If you feel comfortable with the lawyer after a lengthy telephone or office consult, you will know that you have found the right fit.
For a free consultation with me personally regarding your Orange County DUI, please click here: