When should you get an expert on board in a DUI case?

After you decide to hire an attorney for representation on a DUI case the next decision might be whether or not to hire an expert.  For purposes of this blog post let’s assume the decision to hire an expert was made, so the next question is when should you retain that expert.  In my opinion as a DUI Attorney in Seattle who regularly uses experts in DUI cases it can vary depending on the type of case and what the client is okay with.

I believe there are two different times when an expert should get on board with a DUI case.  And it really depends on what the DUI Attorney feels comfortable with as well as the client.

The first instance when an expert should get on board is right way.  Within a few weeks of the DUI Attorney being retained.  The benefit of this is the expert is working on the case right away.  They have enough time to do whatever investigation they, write whatever reports they do, etc.  Additionally if the expert is to be used for a motion or trial, those hearings can be scheduled in advance and cleared with the expert to make sure they are available.

The one downside to having an expert get on board right away is it potentially could be a waste of the client’s money.  What I mean is there have been times where I have been able to negotiate a reduced charged on a DUI or some other plea deal the client decides to take without the experts help.  Meaning the Prosecutor didn’t really consider the experts opinion, their report, etc.  The plea deal was struck based on other issues.  In those instances I have always thought, heck the client could have saved themselves a couple thousand dollars had they not retained the expert right away.

Which brings me to the second instance.  Retaining an expert after all negotiations with the Prosecutor has been exhausted.  There are a couple of benefits to going this route.  First at least the opportunity was present where this money could have been saved had the DUI Attorney been able to get a deal.  Secondly because the expert is not on board from the beginning maybe they will reduce their fee since the work would not be as much.

The downside is waiting this long with delay the case.  Obviously if you set the case for trial before retaining an expert you will not know their schedule.  So there is a chance all the motion and trial dates will need to be continued.  Another downside is the DUI Attorney might take some heat from the Judge for waiting until the last minute to make this decision.  But generally nothing will come from that.

Now every DUI case is different.  Sometimes an expert needs to get on board right away due to the nature of the defense.  Other times it won’t be a problem waiting until the end.  Like I said it just depends on what the DUI Attorney and client and comfortable doing.

About the author:  Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle.  His criminal defense practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses.