Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “I was arrested for DUI two nights ago. This was my first DUI offense. There were no kids in the car, and I did not cause an accident. I know I will be charged with a misdemeanor. I attended a year of law school, and I am pretty sure I can figure out the legal aspects of my case. Do I need a DUI lawyer? What are your thoughts?”
What steps can you take without a DUI lawyer?
Without more information about your DUI arrest and evidence the state has against you there is no way to say for sure whether you need legal help.
If you feel comfortable navigating the legal system, however, there’s no reason you cannot take a few steps on your own. For instance, you can request a copy of your police report, attend your own arraignment and make a plea, and review information about your field sobriety test, any preliminary breathing tests, and your chemical test.
You will also want to review the potential fines and penalties which might be assessed against you. In some states, for instance, there are mandatory fines and penalties for first time DUI offenders that cannot be negotiated.
With this in mind, if you simply decide to plead guilty, there may not be too may a lawyer can do for you. If you decide to hire a lawyer or not you will be convicted and you can expect to pay the fines, have your license restricted for a set period of time, potentially attend an alcohol education course, potentially pay an annual surcharge, and potentially have to install a mandatory ignition interlock device.
When do I need to hire a DUI lawyer?
You asked when it’s a good idea to consider legal help. The following are good reasons to consider hiring a DUI lawyer:
- You have been charged with a felony.
- Your BAC is below the legal limit.
- There is limited evidence you were intoxicated.
- The police failed to follow legal procedures.
- You were stopped without reasonable suspicion.
- There is a discrepancy in the DUI evidence.
- You were arrested without probable cause.
- The police interrogated and held you in custody without reading you your Miranda Rights.
- You or your vehicle was unlawfully searched or seized.
- You are allowed to plea or sentence bargain your charges.
- You intend on taking your DUI case to trial.
- You aren’t sure you understand how to navigate the legal system.
Some lawyers will tell you that you always need to hire a DUI lawyer when you have been arrested for DUI. If cost was no object this would be true. In some cases, however, the evidence is so overwhelming, the police have irrefutable evidence that you were drunk, the penalties and fines cannot be negotiated, and the state does not offer any type of sentence or plea agreements. If this is true with your DUI case, you most likely will be convicted of DUI and hiring a lawyer could possibly be a waste of money. But as mentioned above, without more information it’s impossible to say for sure.
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