Your Right to Defense in a DUI Case
As stated in the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution, you have a right to counsel in all criminal prosecution. For those charged with a DUI, these words bear even more weight.
You definitely need a good defense, even if you are guilty of the charges to some degree, and in order to get a strong defense you need an experienced DUI lawyer. This is not an option, really, because unless you're a DUI lawyer yourself, you need to hire one.
You have three options: represent yourself, have a court appointed lawyer take your case, or hire a lawyer. The DUI Blog has pointed out previously how these options are far from equal; you need to hire a lawyer 99% of the time rather than representing yourself or having a court appointed lawyer.
Why? You will not know where to begin when it comes to defense, and your appointed lawyer won't have the time or desire to truly help you.
This is not to say all DUI lawyers are good counsel. But it's your right to hire one capable of winning your case (even if winning means lessening charges).
How does a lawyer help?
In any DUI case, your lawyer will have a big role. This is not going to court to file bankruptcy; this is a misdemeanor if not a felony offense. Even misdemeanor charges can lead to jail time, and always lead to license suspensions, fines, probation, and other penalties. Felony charges, on the other hand, are even more serious: you could spend months or more in prison, face even higher fines, and lose your license for years. A lawyer helps first by arguing your case so these penalties can be lowered. It's your right to hire one, and it's your lawyer's ability which can quite often decide how your case goes.
A lawyer can advise you on your rights, make sure your constitutional rights have not been violated, strike a plea bargain with the prosecution to lessen charges, and in the court room bring witnesses and other evidence before judge or jury.
What if you take the court appointed lawyer or hire the wrong one?
Criminal defense is a science. Again, hiring a lawyer is your best option. If you fail in this regard, and the lawyer fails to truly win the case in the best manner, even if he or she makes mistakes the conviction will almost always stand. You can't just say you hired the wrong lawyer and start over. Unless clear incompetence is shown, the case will stand.
How do you hire a lawyer for DUI defense?
If you are fluent online, most reputable lawyers have web sites listing their experience and offering free consultations. You can also look in the phone book. Referrals can sometimes help, but be cautious as no two cases are alike. The best way to do this is not make it a race to get the first one; take your time hiring a lawyer for your defense, consulting with as many as you can in the time table you have. And never hire a lawyer days or weeks before trial; they need time to look over your case.