I Was Arrested for DUI. Do I Need a Lawyer? Three Factors to Consider
March 24, 2017
Not everyone who's been arrested for DUI needs a lawyer. It depends on a few different factors. The first one is your objective. For example, will a conviction bring jail time, and do you care? Can you handle a driver's license revocation for at least 6 months? Can you live with a permanent criminal record? The second factor is what kind of case you have? Is it a disaster, a loser? Is it one that could be won in court? And the third factor is whether or not you can afford excellent counsel (because let's face it, if you're going to hire a lawyer and pay him or her your money, you'll want quality).
If you're a first offender with an awful set of facts, your chances of being convicted are high. The typical sentence for a first offender with no serious bodily injury does not include jail time. If you're likely to lose in court, you might end up pleading guilty anyway, whether or not you have a lawyer, and suffer the driver's license revocation and permanent criminal record. Paying a lawyer in this circumstance might be a waste of money you'll need to pay your court costs, fines, probation, vehicle immobilization, driver's license costs, etc.
On the other hand, if yours is a second or subsequent arrest, or you hurt someone, or you have a winnable case, I strongly recommend you hire a good lawyer. A second or subsequent offense or a case where someone was injured brings a much higher probability of jail time upon conviction. And if your case is possibly winnable, you'll want to fight the charge. A DUI conviction brings more than just the driver's license revocation and a criminal record, it brings a life-time of lost jobs and opportunities and a stain that doesn't disappear. The fight is worth the risk if your case is winnable.
Finally, none of the above matters if you can't afford quality counsel. The last thing you'll want to do is make promises of payment to a good lawyer and be unable to keep the promise. Having an unpaid lawyer is like having an unpaid brain surgeon. It's not a good idea. Hiring good counsel is an expensive financial commitment that is worth it more often than not. You've got to decide whether or not you can make that commitment.
Consider these three factors before deciding whether or not you need a lawyer.