Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is considered a crime in every state. Some people opt not to hire a lawyer to handle their DUI case, but there are different situations in which you can benefit from having a private attorney. For example, If you have been arrested for this infraction before, you may be facing serious charges. If it’s a first-time offense, you may get away with just a warning. So, when to hire a DUI lawyer? Here are some factors you should consider when making this important decision.
What a DUI Lawyer Does
In broad terms, a DUI lawyer looks at the range of possible consequences for each client and determines how to minimize the damage to the lives and livelihoods of his or her clients. DUI law is complicated and it constantly undergoes changes. Due to the different circumstances in every DUI case, and to the differences in the laws in every state, the potential consequences of a DUI depend on a series of factors. An experienced attorney can help you understand the possible fines or jail time that you may face in your state should your case go to trial.
If You’re a Second Offender
First offenses are often let off with just a warning. However, this is not the case for a second offense, since it shows that you have not taken the warning seriously. Second offenses usually result in much stricter sentences and punishments because the offender represents a danger to himself/herself and to society. These penalties can include heavy fines, jail time, and the confiscation of your driver’s license. If you are facing a conviction for a second or subsequent DUI, it is best to hire a lawyer to represent your interests and help minimize the sentence.
Hiring a lawyer is critical if the accident resulted in death or a serious injury. A conviction for this infraction can result in years of incarceration, maybe even life sentence. In these cases, the police will move its machinery to prove the charges, which include forensic evidence, technical experts, etc. You have the right to a legal defense in these cases, and it is advisable to hire the best DUI lawyer you can find given the seriousness of the case. An attorney can help mitigate some of the aggravating circumstances. They will also ensure that the right procedure was followed by the police during interrogation and the collection of evidence; any deviation in this procedure committed by the police can actually help you.
Plea Bargain for Reduced Sentence
In criminal cases, the defendant has the possibility of taking advantage of a plea bargain. This means you plead guilty to the charges in exchange for the dismissal of other charges or the reduction of your sentence. In some cases, a prosecutor may reduce a DUI offense to reckless driving, which in most states is a misdemeanor. With this type of offense, you may not face jail time or have your license suspended by the court. Taking a plea bargain can be an option for you, but you will need an attorney by your side to help you negotiate the deal.
If You Think You are not Guilty
In the event that you are not guilty at all, such as if you were not drinking or using drugs but failed the field sobriety test or the breath test, you should hire a lawyer. If you think the arrest was faulty, or that perhaps your crime was not as extreme as the police claims, you need a lawyer to represent you. Do not try to represent yourself if you plan to argue your innocence. You will have much better chances if you seek legal counsel.
There are cases in which you may not need a DUI lawyer, such as if you’re pleading guilty and there is ample evidence against you, or if this was your first offense and there were no injuries. However, you should consider the factors above listed before making any decisions. In any case, if you feel like you don’t understand your rights or your state’s DUI laws, or if you are anxious about the outcome, if you are not sure about what you need to do, or the impact of the consequences you face, it might be a good idea to get legal advice.
If you decide to hire a DUI lawyer, make sure to hire someone with a vast experience in handling DUI cases. It is always better to hire someone specialized in this specific area than just a criminal attorney.
What are other factors to consider when making the decision of hiring a DUI lawyer? Please let us know in the comments below.