Are you asking yourself, “Do I need a lawyer or can I represent myself in court just as well on my first DUI?” If you search this question on the internet, you can get advice that you can represent yourself just as well as hiring a lawyer on your first DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs). Typically it is said that you don’t have a defense and you can plead guilty without a lawyer. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When it comes to DUI cases, we strongly believe the you deserve experienced, engaged, and solid representation by an experienced DUI lawyer. There are a several reasons why.
Picture this, I saw a person representing himself on his first DUI, he took the offer the State’s Attorney recommended, court supervision and fine, and pled guilty. Later, he asked the State’s Attorney, “what about my ability to drive”. The State’s Attorney told him, we don’t get involved in that, that’s the Secretary of State. A qualified attorney would have insisted that there was a lot the State’s Attorney could do for the man’s ability to drive; and a qualified attorney would insist that be done, but a novice would not know and the State’s Attorney will not volunteer. So if your ability to drive is important – and it is the most important thing for most people – you really need a lawyer on your first DUI.
Often the first thing an experienced DUI attorney will do is to seek to rescind the suspension which automatically kicks in and makes it illegal for you to drive. Very technical rules apply. You will not know them and the State will not help you understand them.
Secondly, the consequences of a DUI conviction, including a first time DUI, are severe. It will remain on your driver’s record forever, including if you receive court supervision. Court supervision means the case will be dismissed if you comply with the lengthy terms of the supervision order (no violation of any law of any jurisdiction including a petty traffic law like speeding, running a stop sign, or momentary crossing of a fog or lane line). If you don’t make it, your supervision can be revoked and you can be re-sentenced to a more harsh punishment. (Maximum for a 1st DUI is $2,500 and 364 days in jail.) But even if you make it through supervision, the DUI will remain on your driver’s abstract and is available to current and prospective employers.
If you were not technically or practically intoxicated, the State’s attorney is not going to tell you that, or even analyze the facts. The State is most interested in disposing of your case by a plea of guilty. Only an experienced DUI attorney will look at the facts with a proper level of skepticism, and advise you of defenses you otherwise wouldn’t know about, potentially keeping the DUI off your driving record.
If mistakes were made by the arresting officer in the conduct of field sobriety tests, only an experienced DUI attorney will get all the evidence, audio/video squad or body cam evidence, know how to analyze it for errors, and move to exclude that evidence.
Only an experienced DUI attorney knows the personality of prosecutors and judges in the county where your case is pending, and as such knows the prospects for success of your defense.
Only a qualified attorney can defend your case is court. You will not know the law or how it is applied in court, but you will be held to the same standard as an adequately trained attorney. You do not have to prove you’re innocence, the State must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and all the details of the arrest have to be challenged from the reasonable juror’s point of view. Experienced DUI attorneys practice this art routinely.
Stress can run high and you need to know that you can emotionally distance yourself from the case. A lawyer can represent you from neutral ground and remain composed to present your side and challenge the State’s side.
Carefully weigh the cost of hiring a lawyer and the cost of losing your case.
You should not OVERPAY for experienced DUI representation. You don’t want the cheapest attorney – you get what you pay for. But you should negotiate a fee which can be paid in stages. If you end up not needing a trial because you win on pre-trial motions, why pay for the trial in advance? What you really need is expert evaluation of your case and that is a good investment up front.
An experienced lawyer at Gullberg, Box & Worby LLC will be more than happy to meet with you regarding your charges. It is our goal to ensure you are privy to the concerns of your case and your options. This consultation is free, and there is no obligation to hire us after the consultation, so call 309-734-1001 today.