Being charged with a DUI is a serious matter. While many people choose to manage the arraignment on their own, it can be difficult to decide if a lawyer is necessary should the case move forward. Choosing a course of action isn’t easy, but there are some general guidelines that can help you make the best decision. To help you analyze your situation, here are some points to consider before deciding whether or not hiring a lawyer is the right call.
How You Intend to Plea
In some cases a lawyer isn’t necessary. One of those situations is when you intend to plead guilty to a first offense that did not result in any injuries. In most cases a person in that situation will receive a standard sentence regardless of the presence of a lawyer. That means you can save yourself some money and simply enter the plea on your own.
Often, those with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) on record face the likelihood of conviction. Also, a witness testifying that you were in an altered state can be hard to refute. Most first offenders who did not cause any injuries or property damage will be shown leniency, resulting in a standard sentence. However, there is no guarantee that will be the case depending on the details of your case and matters of personal history.
If the details surrounding the charges aren’t definite, such as a low BAC and an inconclusive sobriety test, you may have the ability to plea down to a lesser charge. For example, the penalties associated with reckless driving are often far less than those for a DUI. If the possibility of a plea bargain exists, you may want to work with an attorney to help increase your chances of a more favorable result than a DUI conviction. A reckless driving conviction may not result in your license being suspended and could allow you to avoid jail time. However, you may be fined and be required to attend an approved driving school. In states that use two versions of reckless driving, a conviction of wet reckless driving asserts that alcohol was involved. These can count as priors should you be charged with another DUI at a later date and can increase your automobile insurance similar to a DUI conviction.
California is a state that uses wet reckless driving, so obtaining services from a Los Angeles DUI lawyer or public defender may be wise. This is especially true if the lawyer has frequently worked with the prosecutor assigned to the case. Successful plea bargaining requires strong negotiating skills as well as a thorough understanding of the laws concerning the issue. In addition, prosecutors may feel more confident facing you in court if you aren’t represented, which may increase the likelihood of a stronger conviction.
A Plea of Not Guilty
If you intend to plead not guilty, and the evidence regarding your condition is not definitive, working with a lawyer may increase your chance of avoiding a conviction entirely. If you can afford your own attorney, you can choose one skilled in DUI case law. Otherwise, you may be entitled to a public defender to assist with your case.
In most cases you can consult with a lawyer about your case free-of-charge. Most attorneys skilled in the areas of DUI laws and regulations can give you an informed assessment regarding your chances of conviction based on the available evidence. If you are uncertain about how to proceed, find a lawyer that offers a free consultation and see what he or she has to say.