The Board Certification in DWI Defense by the NCDD is a certification that is not easily or freely granted. The NCDD has strict requirements as to how a lawyer may earn the board certification. The requirements are strict to show that any lawyer who has earned board certification in DWI Defense should be considered a top DWI attorney.
First, a lawyer must “demonstrate substantial involvement in the practice area of DUI Defense Law,” which requires that the lawyer to have practiced in the area of DUI Defense Law for a MINIMUM of five (5) consecutive years before applying. The lawyer must also devote AT LEAST 50 percent (50%) of the lawyer’s practice to DWI Defense at the time the lawyer applies.
Furthermore, the lawyer must meet what the NCDD calls its “Experience Requirements.” The lawyer must have at MINIMUM:
- She must be Lead Counsel (also called “first chair”) in at least FIFTEEN (15) DWI trials to trial or judgment; AND
- Must be Lead Counsel in FORTY (40) contested matters involving taking evidence, such as motions and hearings. These hours are not included in the trial requirement above.
- A “contested matter” is a matter
- Argued before a prosecutor
- In a court of law
- Where evidence is admitted either by stipulation (agreement between parties) or by testimony of witnesses; AND
- Decided by a judge licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction of the proceeding.
- A lawyer who wants to be board certified must have at least five years of experience in DWI Defense Law,
- Must have been the lawyer primarily handling a MINIMIUM of 15 DWI Defense Trials to completion, and
- Must have been the lawyer primarily handling a MINIMUM of 40 DWI Defense matters unrelated to the trial requirement.
This means that the lawyer must be the primary lawyer on a MINIMUM of FIFTY-FIVE (55) DWI Defense matters. A single case, depending on local court rules, can take between 90 days to 5 months to complete. In addition, a case set for trial can take up to two (2) years to reach verdict or judgment.
The Lawyer must also have AT MINIMUM three (3) judges and three (3) attorneys act as references, for a MINIMUM of six (6) references. These references must have personal knowledge of the lawyer’s competency in the area of DUI Defense Law. Also, the references must have personally observed the lawyer try a DWI Defense matter. The Board reviews each applicant to determine both legal AND scientific knowledge related to DWI Defense. They also review experience with trial advocacy in DWI Defense and dedication to the best interests of her clients.
As part of the reference requirement, the lawyer must offer to the NCDD a list of at least eight names and no more than twelve names as references, with a minimum of four lawyers and four judges being named as references.
The NCDD also has a strict education requirement. A lawyer must have completed thirty-six (36) hours of NCDD-approved education in DUI Defense. Teaching in the subject of DUI Defense, being published in the area of DWI Defense, and speaking at an educational or professional conference in DWI Defense are other ways to satisfy this requirement.
Further, a lawyer must pass both a written and oral exam in order to be board certified in DUI Defense. This exam is designed to test the knowledge and skills needed for the special problems presented for DUI Defense trial advocacy.
The lawyer must also fulfill these same requirements during her certification period, which is 5 years in order to be re-certified. The lawyer must be lead counsel in at least 15 DWI Defense trials. or, alternatively, in 40 contested DWI Defense matters. The Lawyer must also have at least 5 legal or judicial references when applying for recertification. Finally, the Lawyer must maintain the educational requirements within the three years prior to applying for recertification.