Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or drugs (DWI) is a serious offense that can result in heavy fines, license suspension, ignition interlock device requirements and even jail time. If you have been arrested for drunk driving, having an experienced DUI defense attorney on your side can make all the difference in achieving the most favorable outcome to your case.
When searching for a top DUI lawyer, it’s important to look for an attorney who specializes in drunk driving defense specifically. Factors like experience handling DUI cases, knowledge of state and local DUI laws, trial record, credentials and client reviews should be considered.
Here are the top 10 drunk driving defense attorneys in the United States:
Patrick T. Barone – Barone Defense Firm
With over 32 years of legal experience focused solely on drunk driving defense, Patrick T. Barone is regarded as one of the top DUI lawyers in Michigan and across the nation. He has an impeccable success record of acquittals, dismissals and record-breaking case results. Barone and his team are highly acclaimed for their aggressive courtroom manners and meticulous trial preparation.
Bradford Pelletier – Pelletier Law Group
Bradford Pelletier is certified by the National College for DUI Defense and renowned in California for his relentless criminal drunk driving defense techniques. He takes on a limited number of cases to give each client undivided attention. His team uses advanced scientific jury surveys, psychologists and toxicologists to build the strongest case.
Lawrence Taylor – DUI Blog
With over 38 years of drunk driving defense under his belt, Lawrence Taylor has earned a national reputation as an authoritative source on DUI laws and defense strategies. While he takes on limited clients, his blog and books make him an invaluable resource for comprehensive insight into every aspect of DUI cases.
Donald A. Ramsell – Ramsell & Associates
As a national leader in DUI defense for over 23 years, Donald A. Ramsell has become one of the most in-demand speakers at legal seminars throughout the U.S. He and his team specialize in understanding the complexities of drunk driving charges to expose flaws in the prosecution’s case and win dismissals.
David S. Morton – Morton Law Firm
The Morton Law Firm is renowned in Georgia for its unparalleled investigation methods that have led to countless acquittals and dismissals for DUI defendants. Lead attorney David S. Morton is among an elite group to have completed and lectured for the National College for DUI Defense.
Scott Grabel – Grabel & Associates
A stand-out DUI trial lawyer in Michigan for over 20 years, Scott Grabel’s top ratings speak to his relentless pursuit of excellence for each client. Grabel uses his insider’s perspective as a former prosecutor to anticipate the prosecution’s moves and negate their efforts well in advance of trial.
Rhidian Orr – Orr Law Firm
At the forefront of DUI defense in Colorado, Rhidian Orr has one of the largest DUI defense teams in the state. Meticulously reviewing details that others may miss, he capitalizes on every opportunity to call critical evidence into question. His success has earned him numerous awards and accolades.
Jonathan R. Grunberg – Grunberg & Pittersman
One of Georgia’s most prominent attorneys, Jonathan R. Grunberg has grown his practice with a laser focus on defending against drunk driving charges. His team leaves no stone unturned, combing through every last detail to build the strongest case on his clients’ behalf.
Joseph D. Horzempa – Pennsylvania DUI
As a nationally accredited attorney for DUI law, Joseph D. Horzempa has established a formidable reputation in Pennsylvania for his expertise in and out of the courtroom. His encyclopedic knowledge of DUI laws along with his trial skills make him a top choice for the most complex DUI cases.
Daniel M. Murphy – Michigan DUI Playbook
Specializing in high profile, high stakes DUI cases for over 16 years, Daniel M. Murphy has earned dozens of published appellate opinions cementing changes in DUI laws and procedures across Michigan. His practice focuses on aggressively challenging probable cause leading up to and during drunk driving arrests.
Hiring a DUI Attorney – The Benefits
Facing a drunk driving charge without legal representation can put you at serious risk. DUI attorneys have extensive knowledge of state and local DUI laws and use their experience to properly investigate, prepare and navigate cases towards the most favorable outcomes. Here are some top benefits of retaining a DUI lawyer:
Plea Bargaining Leverage
A qualified DUI attorney intimately understands prosecution practices, driving errors police tend to overlook and weaknesses that can be used to reopen negotiations for reduced charges. This leverage is instrumental in plea bargaining for lower fines, probation, license reinstatement and more.
Case Investigation and Preparation
After a drunk driving arrest, evidence is gathered against you by law enforcement. By thoroughly investigating your case and preparing expert testimonies, your DUI lawyer can effectively dispute questionable evidence and testimony. This weakens the prosecution’s case against you.
Protect Your Rights
When you are under police custody and distress, it’s easy to jeopardize your rights and self-incriminate. DUI lawyers ensure your legal rights are protected from the moment you are arrested and advocate on your behalf throughout the legal process.
If plea bargaining fails to reduce charges sufficiently, deciding to go to trial is a huge risk without legal guidance. Seasoned DUI attorneys determine if trial is worthwhile and apply their extensive trial experience to achieve either acquittal or conviction of lesser charges.
Why are DUI Laws so Complex?
The intricacies of DUI laws and penalties vary greatly from state-to-state, and even from county-to-county sometimes. When an incident occurs across county lines, determining which county’s laws prevail can require federal judicial intervention. Why are drunk driving laws so complicated? Here are some key reasons:
Lawmakers have to balance public safety interests against citizen privileges and personal freedom interests. Consequently, updated DUI statutes and case laws often contain complex technicalities favoring one side over the other.
Special Interest Influence
Well-funded public and private advocacy groups lobby to influence DUI laws aligning with their interests. MADD supports harsher drunk driving penalties while the ACLU argues against laws impeding on civil rights. The back-and-forth leads to legal complexities.
The majority of DUI statutes are enacted at the state-level. While some basics are common nationally, states have autonomy to set distinct BAC limits, fines, penalties and procedures befitting constituent viewpoints. The variability causes enforcement confusion across state lines.
Scientific and Technological Advances
As fields like toxicology progress, new evidence collection and testing capabilities emerge. However, standards of admissibility in court lag behind innovations. Until updated statutes account for scientific advances, legal ambiguities around new procedures prevail.
Common DUI Defense Strategies
When representing drunk driving cases, DUI defense lawyers utilize a variety of strategies to get charges reduced or completely dismissed. Tactics used depend on case details and variables within each statute providing opportunities for defense arguments. Below are some often employed defense strategies:
Questioning Field Sobriety Tests
Standardized field sobriety tests can be unreliable indicators of actual impairment. Strict protocols must be followed for legitimacy. Your attorney can dispute test results if officers deviated from official procedures in any way.
Challenging Breath and Blood Samples
Your lawyer meticulously inspects all documentation and handling for extracted blood and breath samples. Any discrepancies in stated testing methods, storage practices or contamination could make sample results inadmissible.
Contesting Traffic Stops
For any evidence found during a DUI traffic stop to stick, the stop must have been conducted legally and without discrimination. Your lawyer determines if there was reasonable cause for pulling you over or if stop procedures violated rights.
Attacking Officer Credibility
Careful examination of the arresting officer’s past reveals any red flags of bias, misconduct or lack of qualification to undermine credibility. Your testimony together with other witness accounts also counters police versions of events.
Understanding technical drunk driving defense strategies requires specialized legal knowledge and resources. Never hesitate to call an attorney after any DUI arrest before responding to officials or submitting to testing. Qualified legal help right away can make the difference between conviction and vindication.
Finding the Best Drunk Driving Attorney for Your Case
All drunk driving charges warrant aggressive defense, but not all defense lawyers offer the same quality of service and results. Choosing the right attorney for your specific needs and budget is critical. Use the guide below to identify premier drunk driving lawyers:
Seek attorneys concentrating explicitly on DUI/DWI defense rather than general practice lawyers. Specialists have deeper knowledge of drunk driving laws, acquaintanceship with court officials and proven drunk driving defense techniques.
The legal intricacies around DUI cases require advanced education. Look for lawyers accredited via the National College for DUI Defense or who have completed intensive field sobriety testing courses. Such lawyers stay abreast of the latest advances.
Ask lawyers about their case success rates in getting charges reduced or dismissed and trial win history. Also request referrals to past clients who can provide reviews on responsiveness and personalized guidance.
Managing drunk driving allegations requires substantial resources for aspects like case investigation, expert testimonies and scientific evidence challenges. Choose a lawyer with strong financial backing and established professional networks.
Consult initial meetings to gauge legal knowledge, presentation style and ability to instill confidence they can manage your case effectively. Comfort communicating with your lawyer is vital for legal cooperation.
DUI Defense Costs – What Impacts Fees?
The costs involved in mounting an aggressive drunk driving defense largely depend on case complexity, state laws and attorney reputation. While lawyers are ethically prevented from guaranteeing outcomes, here are key factors influencing overall DUI legal fees:
Attorney Experience Level
Top DUI lawyers with long tenure and specialty credentials rightfully earn higher fees. Their expertise streamlines case preparation and enhances prospects for charge dismissal or acquittal. Yet junior lawyers may suffice for minor cases.
Retaining lawyers practicing near the jurisdiction of arrest provides advantages in terms of familiarity with local courts, law enforcement and applicable statutes. But you can hire outside lawyers if worthwhile. Expect higher travel fees though.
Scientific Evidence Needs
The more scientific evidence involved, like toxicology reviews, and expert testimonies required, the greater the legal expenses become. But sound scientific backing also strengthens defense arguments.
Case Resolution Method
Taking cases to trial involves intensive preparation over months. Trials cost substantially more than plea bargained settlements reached earlier. Yet trials become necessary when the prosecution refuses reasonable plea offers.
Reputable DUI attorneys offer flexible payment plans to ease financial burdens clients face when paying for legal services. Payment options include:
Flat fee arrangements provide cost predictability by locking in a set rate upfront for full case representation. Rates vary based on projected complexity. This avoids unpredictable hourly billing.
Some attorneys bill by the hour for time and resources expended. This allows only paying for work done until case resolution or funds depletion. It risks higher overall charges though.
Installment plans break up flat fees or ongoing accumulated hourly fees into smaller, regular partial payments over months. This helps cash flow planning for legal fee budgeting.
Credit Card Payments
Letting clients pay legal bills in a series of credit card transactions allows fee spreading over time. Attention should be paid to credit limits, interest charges and payment periods.
In all cases, read billing contracts thoroughly and clarify payment terms before signing and submitting any initial lawyer fees.