In Texas, it can be scary to be arrested for a DWI. Texas law is harsh and unforgiving for DWI offenders, and to navigate the complexity of the criminal justice system, you'll want a lawyer to help you. Many people immediately start looking for the most affordable DWI or criminal defense lawyer. But is the most affordable or cheapest DWI or criminal defense lawyer really what you want when your good name, future and freedom are at stake? Do you really want the most affordable DWI lawyer, or do you want the best DWI lawyer? The best DWI lawyer, or a Board Certified DWI Specialist, brings more experience, expertise and a proven track record that are worth considering, especially when it is your freedom and reputation are on the line. Hiring a cheaper lawyer could end actually costing you way more in fines, insurance increases, potential loss of income, etc.
Doug Murphy is a veteran skilled trial lawyer whose clients describe him as compassionate, a lion in the courtroom, and extremely well-prepared. As one of only 5 Board Certified DWI Defense attorneys in Texas, Doug Murphy has fought for thousands of clients and won acquittals, dismissals, and reductions of charges. With more than 20 years of experience, he brings expertise and dedication to all of his work with clients that has earned him a a renowned reputation and was recently voted by his peers as Lawyer of the Year for his work in DWI defense in Houston area named in the 2021 edition of Best Lawyers in America as published in U.S. News & World Report.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU'RE ARRESTED FOR A DWI IN TEXAS?
When you're arrested for a DWI in Texas, it might all be a blur because of how quickly things happen and the process is overwhelming. You'll be taken to the precinct and processed. Each county in Texas has its own protocols and procedures. A veteran DWI specialist attorney will be able to assist you in navigating what happens after you are charged. Some cases may occur in the County Courts, where others will take place in the District Courts. The best lawyer will be familiar with the processes and the players involved in a DWI trial. They'll be able to explain the difference and the ramifications of the different types of charges you might face. What are some of those potential charges? Let's take a look.
When you are arrested for a DWI in Texas, if it is your first DWI, your minimum charge will be a Class B misdemeanor. You may be charged with this if your blood alcohol content, or BAC, is over the legal limit of .08%. Although a first DWI charge might not seem like a huge deal, it's important to think about the impact a single conviction can have on your life in the future. There are also lasting consequences of a DWI conviction on your driving record.
When you're arrested for your second DWI, you might already have a little bit of familiarity with the process. You will most likely have a Class A misdemeanor brought against you, which brings with it a minimum mandatory jail sentence. If spending time in jail doesn't sound appealing, you'll want to consider the best lawyer to fight for your DWI case.
If this is your third DWI in Texas, chances are high that your charges will be elevated to a third-degree felony. What this means for you is that penalties include a fine of $10,000 and a prison sentence between 2 and 10 years. Prosecutors in Texas are hard on DWI offenders, and they are even harsher on repeat offenders. You must consider what type of future you're looking at with a third DWI.
A felony DWI is a serious concern. As stated, if this is your third DWI, it will automatically qualify as a felony DWI. However, there are other circumstances where a felony DWI might be the charge that a prosecutor selects. As one example, if you are arrested for a DWI and have a child under the age of 15 in the car with you, it will automatically be a felony charge. Felony DWIs have the potential to wreak havoc on your life.
WHAT ARE SOME POSSIBLE DWI SCENARIOS WHERE YOU'D WANT THE BEST LAWYER?
There is a wide range of possible DWI charges that a prosecutor could bring against you, depending on the circumstances of your arrest. The best DWI lawyer will have experience fighting these in the courtroom, winning over the judge and jury.
Here are some of the potential DWI charges you might find yourself facing. The best lawyer will understand the nuances that make up these, and other DWI charges. An affordable lawyer might have some experience with these circumstances, but affordable shouldn't be the reason that you select him.
The effects of a DWI don't end when you've paid your fine or served your time. There are collateral consequences that can follow you for the rest of your life. Collateral consequences are often the sorts of things that you don't think of right away. They're consequences like having a hard time renting a home or finding a job because you have to disclose on an application that you have a prior conviction. Collateral consequences could include losing your license to practice if you are a physician, a nurse, a therapist, a CPA, a realtor. If you are divorced and have children, your custodial rights could be affected by a DWI conviction. Do you want to prioritize affordable over best when it comes to your future after the case is over?
WHY DO YOU NEED THE BEST LAWYER?
When you've been arrested for a DWI, there are so many components to get through. There's the charge, the fine, the sentencing, the trial, maybe a plea negotiation. Who you hire to fight by your side against your DWI charge can impact the severity of the collateral consequences you may experience.
WHAT IS "THE BEST?"
When you think about the word ‘best', what comes to mind? If ‘good' is the baseline, you have good, better, best. Best, then, indicates higher quality. Something better than something else. Affordable might be good, and it might even be better. But is it the best? What are some of the qualifications the best lawyer would have?
What sort of qualifications might you want to consider when you are looking at the best lawyer versus the affordable lawyer for your DWI case? You can break down the qualifications of the best lawyer for your DWI case into a few different overarching areas: Experience, education, Certification, and Community Involvement. In addition to qualifications, there are also qualities that we'll look at a little further below.
Book learning is important for lawyers, however, when you're looking for the best DWI defense lawyer, you want to find a a lawyer who is devoted to specializing in DWI Defense and has significant experience winning DWI cases in the courtroom. The best DWI lawyers understand the science behind DWI cases, they know the law, the know the ins and outs of the judicial system and have that knowledge from years of experience winning DWI cases. A lawyer who has defended thousands of DWI and criminal charges, and successfully argued for acquittals, dismissals, and reductions of charges will be the best attorney to help you fight your DWI case. A DWI trial lawyer committed to your innocence with the experience to back it up can make all the difference in your future.
If you're looking for the best lawyer, you want to make sure that they are well-educated, both in their Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree and in continuing education. The law is constantly changing, as state and federal legislature moves forward in the legislative process and is added to the judicial code. A lawyer who continues to pursue education while they're practicing law is going to be best equipped to tackle your DWI case. In Texas alone, there have been several changes to the code over the past few years. The best lawyer has time and resources to pursue continuing education opportunities.
Certifications from outside organizations are a good way to help you evaluate whether or not someone is the best attorney for your needs. Education is important; however, certification indicates that the lawyer has a commitment to ongoing education and outside assessment. Each certifying organization will have its own standards and requirements, but you can be assured that they involve rigor and excellence. Certifications allow you to have peace of mind in the knowledge that your lawyer is experienced and knowledgeable, especially in the area of their certification. It would make a lot of sense to find a lawyer with a DWI certification if that is what your charges are for.
WHAT DOES BOARD CERTIFIED MEAN?
In Texas, the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) certifies lawyers and paralegals within areas of specialty that meet three broad requirements. They must have substantial and relevant experience in the area of expertise; They must complete continuing legal education hours in the specialty; And finally, they must pass a rigorous examination. This ensures that clients can receive the highest standard of excellence when they select a Board Certified lawyer or paralegal. More than 8,450 certifications of Special Competence have been issued, and roughly 10% of lawyers in Texas are Board Certified. Of those lawyers that are Board Certified, only about 970 of them are Dual-Certified, making them an even rarer find.
Nationally, The National College of DUI Defense (NCCD) provides Board Certification in the area of DUI Defense. They are the only national organization “accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) to provide certification in the specialty field of DUI Defense Law.” Their mission is “to vindicate the promise of the United States Constitution, that a citizen accused has the right to the effective assistance of his or her counsel.” They are especially dedicated to recognizing and supporting the intersection between the legal component of a DWI and the scientific understanding that's required in order to effectively defend a DWI client.
PROVEN LEADER IN THE COMMUNITY
The best lawyers don't just practice law, they also teach others their techniques and approaches. Others look to them for guidance and mentorship. An affordable lawyer might be a proven leader, but that wouldn't be the main reason that they had prominence in their community. Proven leaders serve others, sometimes in positions of authority, such as working as a Dean or a President of a professional association. Other times, they serve as teachers to other lawyers in certification organizations. Finally, the best lawyers often are recognized by their communities for their service to the community. Has the lawyer been featured in any local media or won any awards or recognition for their litigation work? Again, there may be a crossover between affordable and best, but quality should take priority over affordability when your future is at stake.
QUALITIES TO LOOK FOR IN THE BEST LAWYER
Aside from the qualifications that we listed above, here are some qualities that you might want to take into account as you're thinking about the best lawyer vs the affordable lawyer for your DWI case. You want to make sure that they have the right resources, experience, communication skills, and professional relationships, to give you the best shot at winning your DWI case. Let's look at each of those more closely.
- What do fellow lawyers have to say about them?
- Doug Murphy was voted 2021 Lawyer of the Year, DWI Practice, Houston Region, Best Lawyers in America, published in U.S. News & World Report 2013-2020.
- Doug Murphy was awarded the Sharon Levine Unsung Hero Lawyer of the Year Award by the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association.
- Doug Murphy was voted by his peers Best Lawyers in America published in U.S. News & World Report 2013-2020.
- Doug Murphy was voted by his peers as a Super Lawyers published in Texas Monthly 2013-2020.
- How many times have they been invited to speak at continuing legal educations seminars?
- Doug Murphy has lectured lawyers throughout the United States at more than 130 continuing legal education seminars.
- What leadership positions have they held indicating their legal reputation in the legal community?
- Doug Murphy currently serves as the Dean of the National College for DUI Defense conducted at Harvard Law School. Doug is a Past President of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association. Doug previously served two consecutive terms on the Board of Directors for the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers.
- Does the lawyer have experience working your type of case?
- How many cases have they won in trial or on a motion to suppress? This isn't a guarantee that they will win yours, but it can be an indicator of how they litigate.
- Do they understand the science behind DWI cases? Are they aware of how physics and forensics and chemistry can play a role in your case?
- Does the lawyer have a working knowledge of judges and district attorneys in the jurisdiction your case was filed in? Have they built working relationships with their peers? Understanding the judges and the prosecutors can impact the strategic approach that a lawyer takes to a case. The best lawyer will be able to take this into account as they formulate a strategy.
- Does the lawyer have a rapport with the courthouse staff? For example, the guards, the court reporter, the clerk registrar. They all play a role in the judicial system. Each one touches on your case. The best lawyer will be congenial and kind to the staff.
- Does the lawyer have the ability to explain legal terms and situations in a way you can understand? If, at your first meeting you can't understand a word they say, how will you know what's going on in your case? Legal cases can be complicated, and you want someone who can interpret it for you in a way that makes sense. Legalese is ideal for interacting with their peers, but the best lawyer is one who keeps you informed in a way that is accessible and clear.
- Is the staff at their firm polite? Do you feel good when you interact with them? The staff is who many of your interactions will be with, and so it's important that they be polite and professional when you interact with them.
- Does the lawyer commit to returning your phone calls or emails promptly? With so much going on, you want to make sure that your questions are answered, and you understand your role. There's nothing quite like sending an email and waiting three weeks for your lawyer to get back to you. In a DWI case, the best lawyer will be more responsive.
- Do they have an office space to meet with clients and work on cases?
- Do they have access to research tools and the latest technology?
- Will you have to worry that they are trying to save pennies because they need to stay "affordable?"
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST LAWYER?
Now that you have some ideas about what makes someone the best lawyer, how do you actually go about choosing the best? When you have a DWI charge and are facing the complex legal system in Texas, it can be a challenge to know where to start. You're concerned about your immediate future and maybe even your family. We understand how difficult it can be and so we've come with a few steps you can follow.
Be selective and do your research
The most important part of selecting the best lawyer is to make sure that you prepare yourself for meeting with a few different lawyers. You'll want to evaluate their experience, their expertise in DWI law, and you'll want to evaluate how your first meeting goes with them. Check out their websites beforehand and see how successful they've been in advocating for their clients. Is the lawyer making unrealistic promises before having all the facts about your circumstances? Are they charging too little or too much?
Don't go to meet the lawyer alone
When it comes to your case and the implications for your future, it can be scary and emotional to meet up with a lawyer for the first time. The stakes are high, whether this is your first alleged DWI offense or a subsequent charge. Bring a friend or a family member who can help you with asking questions, taking notes, and being objective. They'll be able to help you evaluate who the best DWI Defense attorney is to help with your case.
Be realistic about your situation
Make sure to ask the lawyer that you're meeting with questions about their understanding of the law and legal defense. If they promise set outcomes in an initial meeting, that might not be the best lawyer for you. You want to make sure that they have all of the information about your case before they advise you on potential outcomes. If a lawyer says that they can get you released with no repercussions, but has not looked at the police report and any available evidence, then they are only trying to land you as a client. An experienced lawyer will ask questions and possibly offer hope but they will want to understand the full picture and not make any promises.
Hire a lawyer who specializes on DWI law
There are many lawyers without a specialty; these attorneys dabble a little in this, a little in that, and they can be helpful for certain circumstances. A lawyer who is a generalist will have some experience across a wide range of legal matters. However, you want to make certain, that for a DWI charge, you work with someone who specializes in DWI. Why? Well, would you go to a family medicine doctor if you had a problem with your heart and needed to have surgery? Probably not. Your general practitioner might be great at taking care of your cold, but would you entrust them with operating on your heart? You'd want an expert. Law is the same. You want to have someone on your side who understands the specificity of DWI law in Texas.
Don't pick based on price alone
To continue with the heart surgery example above, you want to pick your DWI lawyer based on whether or not they are the best fit for your case and will fight the best on your behalf. You don't want to make this important decision by putting your future in the hands of the cheapest lawyer you can find. You want someone who's going to value your case. Someone who's not desperate to fill their client roster so that they can pay their own bills.
When it's time to think about your DWI lawyer, do you want your focus to be on finding an affordable lawyer or the best lawyer? With so much at risk, it seems like the best lawyer is the smarter pick.
DO YOU WANT THE BEST DWI LAWYER IN TEXAS?
Doug Murphy and his team have fought thousands of cases across Texas. He is aggressive in fighting for the rights of his clients and a proven litigator who doesn't settle for plea negotiations that could result in collateral consequences for his clients. There is a reason that Doug Murphy was selected as the Lawyer of the Year for 2021 for his work in DWI Defense in the Houston region by Best Lawyers in America published in U.S. News an World Report. Multiple professional organizations have also recognized Doug for his service and his expertise, including Thompson Reuters, US News & World Report, and the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association. If you're interested in learning more about his results with previous clients, you can find that here. The numbers speak for themselves. If you've been arrested for a DWI and are interested in hiring the best DWI lawyer, a Board Certified DWI Defense Specialist Attorney, contact Doug today to set up an initial consultation where we can learn more about your case and how we can help you out.