Let’s say you have been to a party or a bar and had a few drinks. You feel okay so you decide to drive yourself home. You think you are driving safely but next thing you know there are flashing lights behind you and you are being pulled over for drunk driving. Even if you feel fine, the police officer has a right to administer a sobriety test if he suspects that you have been drinking. If you fail it or refuse it, guess what? You are getting charged with DUI.
What is DUI? DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence and is a term used to describe drivers who operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There can be some serious penalties, even for first time offenders. Whether you have ever had a DUI before or not, you may ask yourself “Do I need a DUI attorney”? If you feel that you are in the right or if you just want to try to get of with only a slap on the wrist, you should check into hiring a DUI attorney.
Why Do I Need A DUI Attorney
Every year, each state enacts stronger drunk driving laws with stiffer penalties. The consequences of being convicted of a DUI are a suspended license, fines, and possible jail time. Also, you could end up with a criminal record and the rates on your car insurance will sky rocket. If any of that sounds unpleasant to you, you need the services of a DUI attorney. A DUI attorney is a defense lawyer who specifically deals with laws and legal ramifications regarding drivers operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They represent clients that have been charged with a DUI or DWI. They even represent clients that were under the influence of operating a boat or a plane while intoxicated. The attorney can help their client to better understand the charges and consequences the client is facing and the attorney can act in their defense.
If it is your first time offense and your blood alcohol level was not much over the legal limit, or no one was hurt, you might get by without a DUI attorney. But if you can afford it, why risk it. It never hurts to have some legal counsel. However, if you are a repeat offender who could be looking at time in a county jail or even federal prison, you should take advantage of any legal counseling you can get.
Since a DUI could be a criminal offense, you have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, the court will appoint an attorney to represent you. It is never a good idea to represent yourself, even if you have had some legal training. Even if you cannot afford one up front and do not want a court-appointed attorney, you should still try to find an attorney. Many of them will work with you to set up a payment plan or even a discount.
What Should I Look For In A DUI Attorney
First, you should make sure that your lawyer deals specifically with DUI cases. They will be the most familiar with the ever-changing state laws and will know how to navigate through the legal system. If you try to use a general practice lawyer or one that specializes in another area, you may be at a disadvantage when you go to court.
Many DUI lawyers will give you a free first visit. Don’t be afraid to use this first visit to shop around to a few different lawyers and get their take on how they would handle your case. There is nothing that says you have to stick with the first lawyer you go to. Before you choose a DUI attorney, ask them how long they have been in practice. Experience does count, you know.
After getting a feel for the competition, so to speak, you can better decide which attorney you should use.
When deciding on a DUI attorney to represent you, you need to ask them what their standard fee is for their services. Not all attorneys charge the same. If you can’t afford the entire amount up front, check and see if they have payment plans. You might be able to put down a deposit and then make monthly payments. It is true that you should not skimp on matters that involve legal issues but some lawyers who are cheaper will likely be just as capable in the courtroom as the high priced lawyers.
Where Can I Find a DUI Attorney?
You can find a DUI attorney in a variety of ways. You can always look in the local yellow pages and find one that specializes in DUI cases. If there are several listed, call up each one and see if they offer free first visits. You can also ask at your county courthouse for information on lawyers in your area.
Another good place to check is the internet. There are a number of sites for each state that has listings for DUI attorneys. Two such sites are DUIAttorney.com. and DUI.com. Both have advice on finding an attorney to represent you along with listings divided into the separate states.
Barring that, you can also try word of mouth. Talk with friends, family, or anyone you know if they know of a good lawyer.