If you’re reading this article, you’re stuck at deciding whether a DUI lawyer really helps when you’ve been charged with DUI (driving under influence) or hiring a lawyer is an expense that offers little to no value in return. There is no straight answer to this question since a lot depends on the case in hand.
A Lawyer is Not Needed for Pleading Guilty
In case of a non-injury DUI legal scenario where conviction certainty is quite high, a lawyer won’t be of much help. Remember, a lawyer doesn’t have a magic wand and he cannot do what you can’t possibly do for yourself. A lawyer is not required to plead guilty during subsequent court hearings. And irrespective of whether an attorney is representing you or not, guilty pleas are most certainly common outcomes in DUI cases. The following are a couple of scenarios where you are most likely to plead guilty:
• High BAC
If the mandatory breath or blood test puts you well above .08 BAC, you would most likely be convicted if you take the case to trial. Your conviction chances could be above 90 percent in case your BAC falls between .08 and .11. If the BAC is at .20 or higher, you are 100 percent likely to be convicted. And in several states, the punishment could get stringent if the exam indicates a level over .15.
• Irrefutable Evidence
You would most likely be convicted if irrefutable evidence of your drunk state at the time of the accident is presented in the court. If a witness or a police officer testifies against you and clearly states you were drunk when behind the wheels, and the chemical tests and field sobriety tests back these claims to a certain degree, you would most certainly get convicted of DUI even if your BAC numbers are .08 or less.
Use a Lawyer When Things are Uncertain
When the uncertainty around the case is dominant and plea bargaining is possible, hiring a lawyer makes sense then. For example, if the test exhibited BAC numbers to be .08 or .09, field sobriety exams are not conclusive, and there is no untoward behavior jumping out, the prosecution could come forward to alter the accusation from a DUI to a smaller offense, like reckless driving.
Reckless driving is not as serious an offense as DUI in most states. Though still a misdemeanor, the resulting sentence is less harsh. Often, reckless driving is a fallback state for prosecutors who do not think they could be successful with the DUI case or who are not sure about the facts justifying a trial. This is referred to as legal fiction wherein bad driving need not be there. The recklessness is understood from having consumed a good amount of alcohol to risk injury or damage.
Some individuals economically qualify to avail a public defender’s services. If you have little or zero assets and income, you would most likely get a P.D. to defend you in court. If you earn better or average wages, you will have to come up with your own lawyer.
Hire a Lawyer If You Aren’t Sure
If you’re leaning close to pleading guilty but you’re uncertain, hire a lawyer. If you’re eligible, sign up for a public defender. Even if you’re convicted of DUI or reckless driving, you would invariably be charged lesser if a lawyer intervenes. An honest attorney would never guarantee results. Most likely, the lawyer would inform you that charge reductions are fairly common in DUI cases. If the police reports or your record has nothing to stir the ire of the prosecutor, the risk of squandering money could be worth it.
Let’s understand this with an example. If you shell out $1,000 on an attorney for a charge reduction and you evade paying for DUI school, you would have then most likely incurred zero loss on that problem alone. And in case you escaped the license suspension of a driver, the reduction in charge could be priceless.
You Require a Lawyer for Trial
It is usually not recommended to self-represent in a DUI case, even if you’re entitled to. The trial practice learning curve is quite steep and typically comes with only some amount of legal experience. There are more than a handful issues and procedures pertaining to DUI trials. And it’s quite obvious that getting the outcome in your favor will lead to issues if you do not have a lawyer’s experience and skills backing you.
Finding a DUI Attorney
Don’t look up the Internet right away to find a DUI attorney. First, talk to your friends and seek references. In case you happen to find a DUI attorney through friends or family, you are most likely in safe hands. But if you are looking for a DUI attorney in Los Angeles, you should probably not depend on word of mouth much and choose the Hurwitz Law Group with your eyes closed. Look up the law firm’s ratings and reviews online and you’ll come to know what we’re talking about.