If you’re faced with a DUI case, the first thing on your list should be to consult with a competent DUI lawyer to find out whether you need one or not. However, if you’re going to be convicted—your alcohol level intake is above the legal limit—then getting the services of a lawyer can help as things move forward.

Why hire a lawyer?

A lawyer has the negotiating talents to skillfully plea bargain for a weaker sentence on your behalf, says wiseGeek. This could mean reduced charges and fees, especially if no one was hurt in the accident. However, if you’re a repeat offender, then there’s no question you’ll need all the help you can get. This is especially true if the accident resulted in injuries to another party. Hiring a lawyer is a must from the start.

What to look for in a lawyer?

When you hire a lawyer, make sure you go with someone who has extensive experience with DUI cases. Lawyers with long-standing familiarity with such cases have a unique insight into those legal proceedings, making it possible for them to catch nuances inexperienced lawyers might miss. Ask around or do you research to find out what kind of reputation the lawyer has. If your lawyer has been around long enough, then s/he will have a reputation in the business. Know what it is before you decide to take your lawyer on board.

What other qualities should I look for?

Aside from the basics—experience and a reputation for credibility and delivering results—it’s also important to hire someone you’re comfortable with. Pick someone who values and respects your time as well. If your lawyer seems too busy to meet up with you and has too many things on his/her plate, then look for someone who can make the time for you and your case. So find a DUI lawyer who has these qualities in spades.