What is a DUI lawyer? DUI is an acronym for driving under the influence. It’s illegal in all states, and it usually refers to alcohol, although it can also cover being under the influence of drugs in many cases too.
If you have DUI charges pending, then you face a crucial decision. Your choices are representing yourself, using a public defender, or retaining an attorney. Knowing when it’s best to hire a DUI lawyer is essential to making the right decision.
Since DUI charges are criminal in all 50 states, they’re handled in the criminal court system. You always have the right to represent yourself when in criminal court, although the majority of defendants typically hire their private attorney or just use the representation of a court-appointed public defender. You should know the standards and quality of how to choose a DUI lawyer so you won’t have any problems during the court trial.
You might feel very strongly that you are innocent of the charges against you, and you might even be aware of certain facts or evidence that should theoretically exonerate you. As such, you might be tempted to represent yourself, thinking the case is open and shut, or just to save money and time. However, it’s very hard for a private citizen who has no legal training or experience to assess a DUI case for its strengths and weaknesses. The laws surrounding DUI cases are complex, and they typically have many changes with every legislative session. Also, the facts surrounding any particular case are always going to be unique. At the very least, it’s worth getting a consultation with a veteran DUI attorney. Many DUI lawyers offer free initial consultations so they can learn about your case and then provide their insight.
Your next question might be wondering how much does it cost for a DWI lawyer? Even if you need to spend a little for a consultation, it’s a wise investment. Make sure that you have your police report with you, and bring along any related case documents to make the most of your consultation. Another handy thing is having a list of questions you want to be answered.
Just having a consultation with an attorney doesn’t mean that you have to hire them, but personal meetings help you get a feel for whether or not any particular attorney might be right for you. Prosecutors start working on DUI cases as soon as you are arrested, so the sooner you have a legal professional on your side, the faster you can start assembling a defense.
Having said all that, there might be occasions where it’s not worth it to hire an attorney. Many prosecutors and district attorney offices have standardized plea offers they make to first offenders. If you don’t have any previous DUI convictions, and there weren’t any injuries, accidents, or high BAC levels involved, then you might be offered a plea deal that’s toward the minimum of what’s allowed for a first DUI conviction on your record.
Theoretically, this standard offer is put on the table whether or not you represent yourself, use a public defender, or hire a private lawyer. Most of the time, this holds. However, there can still be advantages to having a DUI attorney, even in the case of a minor first offense.
An experienced DUI attorney is usually able to start reducing a standard plea offer from a prosecutor. They can do this by highlighting weaknesses in the case against you, or by making the prosecutor aware of potentially mitigating factors. In Houston DWI attorney is familiar with local practices, prosecutors, and judges can also be very effective in negotiating with them.
If you have any viable defenses, then just taking the standard plea offer isn’t a good idea. However, if you represent yourself, then you might not know about such defenses. That makes the consultation at least a minimum step to take for a lawyer’s insight.
If you’re not able to afford an attorney, you can have a public defender assigned to you at no charge. However, they have huge caseloads and often urge defendants to cut plea deals. Also, they can only represent you in criminal proceedings, but they can’t represent you at DMV hearings like a private attorney can.
In short, the best time to hire a DUI attorney is as soon as you can following your arrest. In some cases, you might need one representing you just so you can post bail or bond to get out of jail while you await trial. Representing yourself is very dangerous, and court-appointed attorneys are free but have serious limitations on what they can do for you.