Hiring a Private Attorney

The Take-Away

  • Look for qualifications. All SAA attorneys are certified field sobriety test instructors
  • Look for someone who goes the extra mile in evidence discovery
  • Hiring an inexpensive, unqualified attorney can have lasting, irreversible consequences
  • Public defenders can’t represent you in a driver license hearing

What Should You Look for When Hiring a Private Attorney?

This article is an interview with Utah DUI defense attorney Jason Schatz. It addresses what qualities and qualifications you need in your Utah DUI defense attorney.

Interviewer: What do people need to look for when hiring a private DUI defense attorney in Utah?

Attorney Schatz: First you look for qualifications. It takes a specially trained DUI attorney to represent you on a DUI case. In addition to my being one of only three Utah attorneys who are NCDD Board Certified in DUI Defense, every single attorney in our office is actually certified as a standardized field sobriety testing instructor. We’ve all taken the breath-testing operators courses, even technicians courses. I’ve taken a blood analyst course through a lab in Chicago. Many of our attorneys have completed ARIDE (advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement) training as well.

The level of knowledge and expertise you get with a private attorney who specializes in DUI defense is head and shoulders above just some public defender or some general practice attorney. I encounter many people, unfortunately, who take the less-expensive, less-experienced route. They just hire the attorney that costs the least amount of money, but they end up paying more in the long run with all the additional consequences.

Oftentimes, clients may come to me halfway through the case, but at that point, there are events that have already transpired—like the loss of or failure to request a driver license hearing. If they had retained me in the beginning of the case, I’d have known what to do to and I probably could have got them a better result. Because they waited, they missed that opportunity and had the wrong attorney who missed the things that needed to be done. There’s nothing you can do to save them from those consequences which have already been imposed.

And of course you look for someone who will listen, really listen to you tell your side of the story. Then that attorney should commit to really investigating your case to determine what defenses can be brought to the case. Our firm goes above and beyond in our discovery process looking for evidence to help your case. Unlike most attorneys, we don’t just use the discovery given to us by the prosecuting agency. We do everything we possibly can to give you the best chance of a favorable outcome.

Interviewer: What about the driver’s license administrative portion of a DUI charge? Is a public defender even allowed to address that part, because it’s not an associated criminal case?

Attorney Schatz: You’re absolutely right. Public defenders are not appointed to represent people at the driver’s license division. The only time you’re entitled to a court-appointed counsel is in a criminal case where there’s a threat of incarceration and the person is determined to be indigent, in other words, incapable of affording to hire their own attorney. That’s not common knowledge.

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