If you’ve been charged with a DWI and you’re looking for an attorney, you have a LOT of options. Hundreds of attorneys in Minnesota claim to handle DWI cases. But not all DWI attorneys are created equal. Some will charge you a lot of money and do a great job. Some will charge you a lot of money and not do anything. Etc., Etc.
If you just want to plead guilty and take whatever the Judge decides to give you, then your choice of attorney may not matter that much. But if you want to fight your charges, look for the following things in a Minnesota DWI defense attorney:
1. DWI jury trial experience and willingness to try your case.
The most important factors to consider when hiring a DWI attorney are his/her trial experience AND the attorney’s willingness to try your case. Attorneys who aren’t afraid of trial generally have better success negotiating favorable plea deals. A prosecutor is more likely to give a plea deal to an attorney who is willing to try a marginal case than an attorney who never tries cases.
Ask any DWI attorney (1) how many DWI cases (not criminal cases, but specifically DWI cases) he/she has tried; (2) how many of these trials were jury trials; and (3) how many DWI trials the attorney has had in the last 2 years. If your attorney has had jury trials recently, he or she is much more likely to actually take your case to trial at the present time.
- Experience with the type of chemical test used (or refused) in your case.
If you took a breath test, your DWI attorney should be familiar with the myriad issues with the breath testing machines. Make sure to ask your attorney about any potential problems with the breath testing machine used in your case (either the Intoxylizer 5000EN or the Datamaster). If you took a urine test, ask your attorney if he’s familiar with the problems of first-void urine testing. First-void urine testing is used in Minnesota; your attorney should be able to explain why this method of testing is not reliable. And if you’ve taken a blood test, ask your attorney about issues with blood testing, including who took the blood test, the method of testing the blood sample, and any margin of errors or discrepancies in the test results.
- Experience questioning police officers about field sobriety tests.
Your attorney should be familiar with the deficiencies in field sobriety testing. Police officers are trained on a Manual regarding specific observations to look for when interacting with a suspected drunk driver. Your attorney should know how to use this manual against them, in order to point out deficiencies with how the field sobriety testing was conducted in your case. Further, your attorney should be familiar with the general lack of reliability for field sobriety testing in general. These issues are very important in any contested hearing. They are doubly important during a trial, when an officer will be attempting to convince a jury that you were impaired based on how you performed during field sobriety testing.
With these factors in mind, you can find yourself, a good, experienced, agressive Minnesota DWI Defense Attorney.