If you are facing your first DUI charge, you have probably already started your search for an attorney. However, you may not actually need an attorney for a first time DUI, depending upon the course of action you plan on taking. Let’s take a quick look at the options available to DUI defendants.
Are You Guilty or Innocent?
The first question to answer is if you are actually innocent of the charges. If you were wrongly arrested, you obviously would like to fight the charges. If this is the case, you are going to need the services of an attorney. If you plan to plead guilty, you may want to consult with an attorney, but you do not necessarily need to hire him or her to handle the entire case.
Consulting with an attorney is always a good idea anyway, as he or she may be able to find a weakness in the prosecution’s case even if you had planned on pleading out the case. The attorney may be able to have the case dismissed or at the very least, have the charges reduced.
If the evidence is overwhelming, you may decide to save some money and plead guilty to all charges. For instance, if you failed field tests, had a BAC over .08, and the police followed all procedures and have video tape evidence, even the best attorney might not be able to save you. It being your first offense, the court may show some leniency and not hit you with the maximum fines and penalties.
In some states, especially when evidence is weak, you may be able to plead out to lesser charges and avoid a DUI charge. Generally, alcohol will still be part of the case, but the charge can be reduced to reckless driving. If this scenario is likely, you are best served to hire an attorney to work out the plea bargain agreement.
We should note, though, that this option is generally only available for individuals that had a BAC level that was only marginally over the limit. For instance, it might be an option for someone with a .09 BAC, but not someone with a BAC tested at .12.
Repeat DUI Offenses
DUI fines and penalties get progressively higher for each offense. Because increased jail time and fines are involved, you should have an attorney defend you. Without pleading guilty, the case will end up at trial, and it is unlikely that you will be able to handle defending yourself in court against a skilled prosecuting attorney.