After being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), some people panic because they cannot afford an attorney. But, must you retain an attorney if you are facing this charge? The answer depends on the situation but in general, it is wise to at least consult with an attorney to determine the next steps. Whether this is a first or repeat DUI, learn about your options regarding legal representation.
Getting a DUI for the first time can be very scary. If there is no doubt regarding guilt and the plan is to plead guilty, it is not necessary to hire an attorney. Simply attend the hearing, plead guilty, and face the consequences imposed by a judge or jury. Penalties typically include license suspension, a fine, and increased car insurance premiums.
Individuals who believe that they are innocent should consult an experienced DUI attorney to find out how to fight the charges. They may need to have expert or character witnesses testify on their behalf or their attorneys might have to request information about the breath-testing device used or training received by the testing officer. To win the case, the charged individual and his or her attorney will need to convince the court that reasonable doubt exists regarding guilt.
If this is a second or third DUI offense, getting a lawyer is recommended. Proceeding without representation can result in missed opportunities to identify holes in the prosecution’s case. A good DUI lawyer immediately catches errors made by the arresting officer and brings these mistakes to the attention of the court. There is no opportunity to introduce this evidence after the case has been heard. At that point, penalties have been handed down and cannot be avoided.
Consequences for a repeat DUI include long-term license suspension, high fines, and a substantial amount of time in jail. Many states require repeat offenders to participate in a counseling or treatment program. This is a lot for a convicted individual to go through if he or she was not guilty but was unable to prove this to the court due to lack of legal expertise.
Retaining an attorney is not as expensive as many people think it is. In fact, DUIRights.com offers a free DUI arrest evaluation and matches DUI offenders with knowledgeable, specialized lawyers at no charge. Talk to a DUI lawyer to learn about the advantages of having this legal professional on your side during a DUI hearing.