Wednesday, June 5, 2013

When to hire an expert in a DUI case

One of the most important aspects in defending a DUI case is knowing when it is beneficial to hire an expert for consultation and possible testimony at a trial.  In a DUI case at least in Washington State their are a few experts that everyone uses.  So their schedules fill up pretty quickly.  In addition the cost of an expert can be quite expensive to the client.  In my opinion before an expert is retained here are a few things to keep in mind.

First can the expert do an initial free consultation.  Meaning have a 5-10 minute conversation with the DUI Attorney to determine whether expert services are even needed and whether this particular expect can even help.  Sometimes DUI cases have complicated issues and not every expert is equipped to consult on it.  So a 5-10 minute conversation to determine whether retaining an expert is even feasible is a ideal.  Additionally it will give the client some time to determine whether they even like this expert and whether they feel they will be helpful.  

Secondly assuming the expert is able to consult on the case.  The next factor to look into is the cost.  First whether the cost of the expert is even in the wheelhouse of the client.  But secondly how the cost breaks down.  Are there additional fees for trial?  Will travel expenses be needed?  What is the fee to provide a written opinion to use in negotiation with the Prosecutor?  These are all things that need to be considered, especially when you're asking the client to foot the bill.  

Thirdly can this expert be joined in another DUI case.  Often the expense of experts is quite hefty and clients cannot afford it.  But if the expert can be retained for several cases than that cost can be spread among the defendants.  This would be ideal if there was a big motion hearing where several defendants were joined together.  Then one expert could be retained to provide testimony and their opinion and a single client would not be stuck with the entire bill.

Lastly you need to determine whether the expert is available.  A DUI case especially in Seattle can last several months up to 1 year.  I know one of expert in the Seattle area who always vacations during the winter.  It would be pointless to retain this individual in the summer and then have the case set for trial in the winter.  They would not be available and it would be best to try and find someone else.  

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle.  His is rated as a Top DUI Attorney in Seattle by Avvo, listed as a Rising Star in DUI Defense by Seattle Met Magazine, and was recently awarded the 2013 clients choice award for best customer service by Avvo. 

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