There are so many wonderful places to eat in Pasadena and when it comes to drinking we have some of the best bars on the West Coast. I am an advocate of having a good time in the city of Pasadena, but I have always reminded both follower and friend that drinking and driving is not an option. If you drink don’t drive. Call a cab, phone a friend or wait it out. The LAST think you want to do is get a DUI. However, there have been times that my friends have asked me, “Okay, Mr. Pasadena, what if I didn’t listen to your advice and I DID get a DUI…what do I do now?”
Well when it comes to DUIs I refer my friends to my good friend Levon Kevorkian. Levon is a practicing criminal defense attorney based in Pasadena specializing in general misdemeanors, DUIs, and civil litigation. He has been a lifelong Pasadena resident and has graduated from UC Berkeley School of Law. Today he is here to go over a few facts and some thoughts about DUI’s for you.
Are you picking the right lawyer for your DUI?
by Levon Kevorkian
Fact: Even at blood alcohol levels as low as .02 g/dL, alcohol can affect a person’s response time and driving ability. The probability of a crash increases significantly after .05 and even more rapidly after .08.
Fact: A DUI arrest can begin with the smallest traffic infractions; including illegal U-turns, speeding, and changing lanes without a turn signal.
Fact: You are not required to submit to a handheld breathalyzer AND the police officer MUST tell you this.
Did you know of these facts? If you didn’t, it’s ok. But now think if you ever get a DUI and you find out your lawyer doesn’t know these facts, how would that make you feel?
DUIs cost a lot: you’ll be facing fines, multiple license suspensions, and alcohol programs. Therefore it is crucial that you get the best representation. So how do you know you are hiring a good DUI lawyer? Well if your lawyer doesn’t know the above facts, then he’s not competent to handle your case.
In my experience you should be looking for three things: expertise, honesty, and reputation.
Expertise: You want a lawyer who knows what he’s doing. You want a lawyer who has handled your type of case before and has a good track record. For criminal defense lawyers this means the number of trials and cases handled. Also there are certain questions that any competent DUI defense attorney can answer:
Has he ever been to a crime lab? Has he ever done a jury trial? What is the rising blood alcohol defense? How can mouth alcohol affect breath test results? What studies show that the human body can absorb alcohol for up to three hours? If he answers then he is competent. If he just stares at you, tell him thanks but no thanks.
I’m serious. It’s time to quiz our legal professionals and hold them to the high standards they face in courtrooms. It’s up to us to be looking out for one another and it’s about time we start doing it. If you’re lawyer cannot honestly answer these questions then how do you expect him to fight for your rights in a courtroom against prosecutors and judges?
Honesty: You want an honest lawyer. I know many lawyers who blow smoke and create unrealistic expectations for their clients when all they have to do to retain them is just be up front. Just be up front, it’s pure and simple.
So how can you tell if your lawyer is honest? Simple, ask your friends. Most of us know someone who has gotten a DUI and can tell you about their experiences. Whether good or bad they will let you know whether the attorney is worth considering. But what happens if you don’t know anybody who has ever received a DUI? You can always evaluate your lawyer at the initial consultation.
This may seem difficult at first since most clients haven’t personally met their lawyers until they step inside of their office. It’s important to gauge your potential lawyer’s demeanor: is he really excited at the prospect of your case? Is he making promises that sound a little too farfetched (i.e. “we’ll get your case dismissed no problem, I know the DA”). Is he brushing your questions off?
Do some research and ask him some of the questions listed above. Most lawyers would never expect clients to know these about questions. If your lawyer can answer the questions professionally, it looks like you have found your lawyer.
So now you know that your lawyer is honest, there is just one final step before you shell out your money and hire him:
Reputation: Whether it’s criminal defense, landlord-tenant, or personal injury, you want a lawyer who has a good reputation. Reputation matters with judges, opposing counsel, and prosecutors. You want a lawyer who knows the people he will be dealing with when he steps inside of the courtroom and represents you. I’ve often seen judges give a lot of deference to attorneys who have great reputations. A lawyer who has a good reputation goes a long way. Ask him if he belongs to any professional organizations. You can even ask him for some references. Why not? You’re the one hiring him after all.
Bottom Line: For my clients, I am honest about their situations. I’m an open book, they can ask me anything. I also let them know about my experiences in the legal field. I previously clerked as a prosecutor in one of the biggest DUI courthouses in California and have done multiple jury trials against some of the best attorneys out there. I’ve also visited the LAPD crime lab under the supervision of state certified toxicologists and saw their daily work in the lab. You want to know what I know about breath testing machines? I’ll tell you, even before you want to hire me. How many other attorneys do you know that will do that?
Choosing a lawyer is an important decision because you probably have never faced a situation like this before. This is why you should put every effort in this decision as you can and choose a lawyer who is experienced, honest, open to your needs, and has a good reputation. Remember, the lawyer will be working for you and you’re the boss.