Driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal in every state, and a DUI charge can come with serious penalties, including fines, license suspension, and jail time. Any time you are charged with a criminal offense, you have the right to have an attorney represent you in court. While you can handle DUI charges yourself, it's best to hire a criminal defense lawyer in some circumstances.
If you've never been charged with driving under the influence before, your DUI case will most likely be fairly straightforward. Prosecutors in most jurisdictions have a standard plea offer they use with first-time offenders who didn't cause an accident or injury and whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) wasn't particularly high. Even if you intend to accept the plea offer, a lawyer can help you understand the terms.
Some DUI cases don't leave much room for a defense, but others may have valid defenses you can argue in court if you plan to plead not guilty to the charge. Prosecutors must prove that you drove a vehicle while you were under the influence of alcohol to get a conviction.
Some states don't allow you to be charged with driving under the influence if you weren't actually driving at the time. If you were asleep in your vehicle while it was parked when police approached you, you might have a defense.
Other defenses relate to proper arrest procedures. If there was no probable cause for your arrest, such as a traffic violation or something the police officer observed that caused them to believe you were under the influence of alcohol, the arrest may not be valid.
You may also have a defense if police didn't give you your Miranda warnings prior to questioning you.
It's best to hire a lawyer if you plan to fight your charges. Attorneys who work with DUI clients have a thorough understanding of the law and are familiar with local courts and judges, so they're in the best position to help you present your case.
Even if you don't plan to plead not guilty, an attorney can help you make sure you're getting the best plea offer and the lowest sentence possible. Some prosecutors are willing to reduce sentences for DUI defendants in exchange for a guilty plea. A lawyer is a particularly good idea if you've had a DUI conviction in the past and are looking at a harsher sentence for a repeat offense.
If you've been charged with driving under the influence and you're not sure whether you need a lawyer, schedule a consultation with a lawyer who has experience defending clients in DUI cases. Many criminal defense attorneys offer free or inexpensive consultations, so you can decide whether to hire the attorney after you go over the facts and evidence in your case.Share
13 December 2019
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