Do I really need a DUI attorney?
If you ask this question to a lawyer. He will tell you that there’s no way you can go without a DUI attorney. He will prove himself to be a necessity, and more often than not, you will end-up hiring him. After all, all lawyers are witty, and they get paid for talking.
So, if I am facing a DUI, Do I need a DUI attorney?
Well, not always, there are times you don’t need an attorney.
And, there are times, you do need an attorney.
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a common and serious crime in all the states. Since it puts so many people at risk, the consequences of a DUI are also very serious.
Depending on the factors such as your past criminal record, past Drunk-Driving record, someone got injured or died because of your drunk-driving etc. You might face a jail term, hefty fines, suspension of your driving license, attending DUI classes, Community service, house-arrest, probation or installation of Ignition Interlock Device (IID is a device that is installed in your vehicle by the authorities, and if it smells any alcohol it locks the ignition of your vehicle).
Let’s hear it from people who have faced DUIs.
“I didn’t need a DUI attorney” -Jeffery, New York City.
Read Jeffery’s Story:
I was out watching a football game at a sports bar with some of my friends. We were all drinking. I knew I was to drive home after the game. So, I kind of, put a bar on my bar access.
After the game, most of my friends were heavily drunk. I was proud of my restraint then.
We all went separate ways, driving our separate vehicles. Guess, who was caught by the cops, the soberest of all, ME.
On the way home, I got pulled-over by the cop. He first told me that my car’s tail light was broken. I was aware of it, so I apologized. While we were talking, he somehow figured that I was not completely sober. He asked me to breathe-into the analyzer, and the BAC was 0.9, just above the permissible limit of 0.8.
He did some more tests, made me stand on one leg, made me read a booklet to see if my voice was slurry, threw the flash-light on my face to see if my eyes were red. Thankfully, all these tests were negative.
He arrested me. I spent the night in jail, and kept cursing myself for the mistake.
The next morning, cops asked me, If I needed to contact a lawyer. After understanding the minimum cost that it would require, I told I was not able to afford the DUI attorney.
They provided me a public defender (PD), and I was released on a bail-bond.
On the day of my court hearing, when judge asked, if I had consumed the alcohol. I admitted and apologized.
After a brief hearing. The judge ordered my license suspension for 6 months, and fined me $500. I was happy because If I had hired a DUI lawyer, It would have cost me at-least $3000 or more.
Guess, the judge was lenient because the BAC level was not too high (just 0.9). I had passed all other tests, and I was not driving recklessly or at high speeds.
Nevertheless, this incident changed a lot in me. I thank God that I didn’t end up hurting anybody on the road. Realized my big mistake, and have never had a drink ever since.
“I couldn’t afford a DUI attorney” -Roger, Chicago.
Read Roger’s Story:
You always think that DUI is a thing of young drivers. Well, I faced a DUI at the age of 57.
My wife and I had a drink at home. We both decided to drive-out for an un-important adventure. We both were pretty sure that we were well below the permissible limit.
Not too far away from home, when we saw the flash lights, we thought it was because of our speed.
We pulled over, the officer asked us if we were drinking in the car, we said NO. He asked us to come out of our car, and started searching the car. Obviously, he found no alcohol in the car.
He asked us, if we were drinking. We said Yes (We were very confident that we had not crossed the prescribed limit.) The officer asked us to accompany him to the police station. We insisted that he should do the breath-analyzer test. He refused, he was abusive with me and my wife (Thankfully, Some shopkeepers confirmed it later).
At the police station, on our insistence, he did the breath-analyzer test on me and my wife. She was well below the limits, but to my surprise I had tested 0.12, way beyond the prescribed BAC limits of 0.8.
I called a local lawyer, who helped us secure the bail, and we came out of police station.
Now, we had to decide as to how we needed to represent ourselves in the court-hearing, which was a week away.
We spoke to a couple of DUI attorneys, they seemed good but their minimum charges, even after the so-called heavy discounts, were out of our reach. Yes, we couldn’t afford a DUI lawyer to represent ourselves in the court.
We did a lot of research on the internet, and found out that the policeman had made a very big procedural error by not doing the breath-analyzer test immediately at the time of the arrest. This seemed like a ray of hope, and we started waiting for the court date.
On the first hearing day, the judge was not lenient, but we said sorry and told him about police officer’s mistake, that he had not done the breath-analyzer test immediately.
On the next hearing day, Court’s own inquiry took the statement of the shopkeepers, and they confirmed of the misbehavior of the police officer.
Seeing the weak police case, the public prosecutor approached us, and we did a plea-bargaining. Prosecution dropped the DUI charges, and charged us for reckless driving and we happily pleaded guilty for the same.
Yes, I beat the DUI without a DUI lawyer. And, I vowed to never mix drinking and driving again. I don’t hope to be lucky twice.
“Happy, I found a good DUI attorney, can imagine what would’ve happened to me otherwise” -Christine, Los Angeles.
Read Christine’s Story:
I was always a good kid. I was great at academics, sports as well as community service. My parents were always proud of me, and then one day, it all changed.
I was 22 years, and I went for a party at my friend’s place with my boyfriend. I drank carelessly, without worrying about driving back home, as my boyfriend had assured me that he would not drink too much and will drive me home.
But guess what? He was in a worse situation. I had no option but to drive.
My home was near-by so it didn’t seem to be a very big deal, but very soon I knew I was wrong.
When I saw lights flashing in the mirror, I knew I was in a very big trouble. I had to pull over, they did the sobriety tests, I failed. They did the breath-analyzer tests, and I blew 0.10.
I didn’t know how to face my parents, but had no option but to call my father. Cops took me to the police station. My DUI attorney, Mark arrived in next half an hour. He did something magical, got a few signatures from me and they immediately released me on a bail. Everyone at the police station, seemed to behave better after Mark had come.
My family and I trusted our DUI lawyer, and he asked me to plead guilty. Thankfully, They did not send me to jail, and rather sent me for community service. I also had to attend DUI classes. I also faced a license suspension for 6 months.
But, I didn’t have to do jail time, and court fine was also not that high.
Going through the DUI was a big wake-up call for me. I realized my mistake, and promised myself not to repeat it again.
Lucky to have had Mark by my side. I recommend everyone to have a good DUI lawyer by their side.
We hear such stories all the time. Our aim here is not to change your perception about the DUI attorneys, or we are not telling that you don’t need them at all.
However, it’s very important to understand your unique situation, and then decide to hire or represent yourself in a DUI.
When you don’t need a DUI Attorney
You probably won’t need help of an attorney, if it was your first DUI. There were no injuries to anyone, there’s a clear procedural error from the police, or when you are looking to plead guilty any ways whatsoever.
If you were far above the prescribed limits, and the arresting police officer has additional evidence of an influence (reckless driving, injury to someone, slur in speech etc.) then you are going to face a conviction irrespective you hire a DUI lawyer or not.
However, if you can afford or access, it’s better even in these cases to hire an attorney.
When you DO need a DUI Attorney
Plea-Bargaining: If it’s a case, where the prosecution foresees a long-legal battle and multiple trials, they are often ready to do a plea-bargain. You can do it yourself, but it’s always better to use an experienced attorney to do the bargain on your behalf. Trials are long, expensive and tedious for you as well as the government. To save everyone from the long-trials, the prosecution can offer a plea bargain to close the case quickly.
Sentence-Bargaining: Most prosecutors will be ready to reduce your sentence, in the exchange of a guilty-plea before the case goes for the trial.
If you are facing a second or third DUI, you might face a jail term of months, if not years. An experienced DUI attorney can definitely do a better bargain with the prosecution, than how you will be able to do it for yourself.
If it’s a case of drug influence, the attorney can negotiate with the prosecution and they can convert some part of your jail term to community-service or house arrest.
Public Defenders (PDs) and pro-bono attorneys: if you are not able to afford an attorney, all states provide you a free public defender, Obviously, they might not pay as much attention and time to your case, as a paid-lawyer would do. But, if you cannot afford a paid lawyer, this option is definitely better than representing yourself. Read our article to understand how you can get free DUI attorneys.
It’s very difficult to decide whether to go for the DUI lawyer or to represent yourself. You don’t want to ruin even smallest of any chances that you can have, and at the same time you cannot burn all your money on a DUI attorney.
We suggest, it’s always better to do at-least one free consultation with an attorney, it will help you understand your case better, and then you can decide whether to hire him or go solo.
if you are facing a DUI, you definitely need to go through our DUI FAQs.
You should also check some useful information on United States Department of Transportation website.
Do write your comments or questions below. We promise, you will definitely hear-back from us.