In How to Choose a DWI Lawyer (Part 1), I listed characteristics the right lawyer will have. Here, in Part II, I provide a checklist of questions to help you select an attorney.
The Arresting Officer
Will the lawyer investigate exactly when and where the arresting officer was trained?
I demand the arresting officer’s training record and personnel file from the police department and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
I look for whether the training was current. Was it performed by an authorized agency? Were vehicle stop laws and protocols followed? Were search laws and protocols followed? Who trained the officer in field sobriety tests?
Will the lawyer investigate exactly when and where the officer operating any chemical testing equipment was trained?
I demand the training record and personnel file of any police officer who operated any testing device. Was the officer trained by a specialist in the testing processes and the latest equipment? Was the officer’s training periodically reviewed according to department policies?
The Training Materials
Does the lawyer have the classroom training materials the officers were trained on (which can determine whether an arrest or a test were properly performed)?
I have the actual classroom materials the officers are trained on! Some of these are from the Minnesota Highway Patrol, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration.
I demand the training record and personnel file of any police officer who operated any testing device.
If the officer does not follow his training, step-by-step, according to the materials he was trained on, the stop, arrests, and tests are not valid and cannot be used to convict you!
Your Property Rights
Does the lawyer plan to immediately file and serve multiple civil lawsuits to preserve your property rights (driver’s license, money, vehicle) before your first court appearance?
I always do. Driver’s license revocations and license plate revocations happen automatically, regardless of the status of your criminal case.
Your lawyer must file one, two, or even three civil lawsuits to preserve your right to keep your license and your license plates and to even attempt to challenge a vehicle forfeiture.
I have gotten licenses reinstated in Hennepin, Ramsey, Stearns, Sherburne, Washington, Dakota and other counties,
And your lawyer must file these very early — usually before the first time you go to court. If not, you lose the right to challenge them. And your license and plates get revoked and your vehicle forfeited, even if you are never convicted!
Does the lawyer know the eighty-seven different counties’ eighty-seven different procedures for getting a driver’s license temporarily reinstated?
Most of the time, you can get your driver’s license (and plates) reinstated while you’re fighting the DWI. But each county handles that procedure differently. I have gotten licenses reinstated in Hennepin, Ramsey, Stearns, Sherburne, Washington, Dakota and other counties, using each county’s different procedure.
Has the lawyer won a DWI jury trial?
If your lawyer can’t plausibly threaten to take your case to a jury, he or she can’t keep the prosecutor and police honest.
I have tried and won cases. So they know I’m not bluffing if I reject a bad offer and say we’ll go to trial.
BAC Testing Machines
Has the lawyer gone toe-to-toe with the State’s experts on the vulnerabilities and limitations of the State’s approved testing machines and procedures?
Expert witnesses are expensive (thousands of dollars).
I have cross examined the head of the State of Minnesota’s Breath Testing Lab, and have proven that procedures were not properly followed. I know the manuals and the machines better than most operators.
Will the lawyer appear for the preliminary bail hearing, fully knowledgeable of the county’s procedures and options for bail release or conditional release and arrange for a bail bondsperson to contact you immediately, if necessary?
My first contact with a client often starts when he or she is in jail and wants out.
I can get a bail hearing expedited. And I can get options for release terms involving less money and more conditions, more money and fewer conditions, or, often, no money or conditions.
If you need bail, I’ll have a bail bondsperson whom I personally know and can vouch for, call you, meet you where you are, and set up your bail and release.