An arrest for driving under the influence, or DUI, is something can happen to anyone. All it takes is making the mistake of getting behind the wheel of your vehicle after having one too many drinks and then having the bad luck to get pulled over by a law enforcement officer. That one mistake, however, could have serious consequences, both now and in the future. While you cannot turn back the clock and rethink your decision to get behind the wheel, you can make a better decision now – the decision to hire a lawyer who specializes in DUI cases. Any licensed attorney can represent you; however, DUI lawyers are attorneys who have chosen to focus their practice on one narrow area of the law – driving under the influence cases. You may be asking yourself the question “So I really need a lawyer who specializes in DUI cases?” The simple answer to that question is “yes.” A better understanding of why you should choose an attorney who specializes in DUI cases may be helpful.
<h2>The American Legal System in a Nutshell</h2>
Understanding the importance of hiring an attorney who specializes in your specific type of case starts with a basic lesson in the American Legal system. The United States operates under a federalist type of government, meaning that power is shared between a strong central government (the federal government) and numerous smaller governments (the state governments). That means there are two judicial systems in each state – the federal court system and the state court system. Within each system cases are further divided between civil law and criminal law. As a defendant in a criminal matter you could be charged in federal court, state court, or both. Driving under the influence is a violation of Nebraska state law, meaning you are charged and prosecuted in state court.
<h2>Rules and Procedures</h2>
Each judicial system has its own broad set of rules and procedures that apply to the system’s civil or criminal courts. That means there is a set of court rules and procedures for Nebraska civil lawsuits as well as a set of rules and procedures for Nebraska criminal prosecutions. Counties may also adopt their own rules and procedures. Just to make things even more complicated, individual courts within the broader judicial system will also typically have their own official, and unofficial, rules and procedures.
<h2>Attorney Practice Areas</h2>
The general public is often under the misperception that attorneys, like doctors choose their area of specialty while in law school. This is not the case. Law school provides a broad education in the various areas of the law; however, a student does not choose an area of practice while in law school. Legally speaking, an attorney who has graduated from law school and passed the relevant Bar examination can practice almost any type of law. This does not, however, mean that an attorney should practice any type of law. Practice leads to experience and experience leads to expertise. An attorney who spends the majority of his/her practice reviewing and drafting contracts is not going to be as well versed in criminal law as an attorney who spends the majority of his/her time representing defendants – and vice versa.
<h2>What Does all this Mean for You?</h2>
As you likely know, the negative consequences of a conviction for DUI can include much more than the sentence handed down by the judge. A DUI conviction can have a number of ramifications including, but not limited to disciplinary action if you hold a professional license, lost employment opportunities, and may even interfere with visitation/custody of minor children. Having an experienced, seasoned, DUI attorney on your side is the best shot you have at avoiding all of that. DUI lawyers are attorneys who have chosen to focus their practice on a narrow area of the law, thereby gaining invaluable experience and knowledge in that area as well as developing relationships and rapport with prosecutors, judges, court staff, and everyone else involved in the criminal court system. That is who you want on your side. If you needed brain surgery would you want a general practitioner to operate on you or would you insist on a neuro-surgeon? The same concept applies to your choice of attorney.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Nebraska contact the Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney.
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