Do I need a lawyer for my DUI case?

You are not required to hire a lawyer or to accept assistance from a public defender if facing a DUI. 

 

Do you 100% need a lawyer? It depends. I'm sure that I'm one of the very few lawyers out there who would reveal it's not always necessary. If you're someone who simply wants to accept responsibility early by pleading guilty to avoid large legal fees and a drawn-out legal process, then it could be a reasonable option for you. But that assumes the DA's evidence is strong enough to convict you and the punishment you're to receive is no worse than a standard plea deal. Remember that even if you feel you're totally guilty, you still may have a viable legal defense or at least avenues to negotiate your case for lesser punishment. In other words, before you face your case completely alone, the smarter move is to have a lawyer at least look over the evidence first. 

 

If you're serious at all about actually fighting your case to trial, you'll need a lawyer. First of all, a lawyer will know how to properly review the evidence to spot weaknesses to attack. 

Secondly, defending oneself in court, regardless of the type of case, is very complex. It takes attorneys years and years to become even just proficient in the rules of evidence, let alone show signs of mastery. And then there's the law itself. DUI cases can be very scientific and complex. If proceeding to trial, you'll need to quickly learn many very nuanced skills. For example, you'll need to know...

 

  • how to file pre-trial motions;

  • pick a jury that gives you the best chance for success; 

  • how to cross-examine witnesses, such as an expert forensic toxicologist, in addition to the police officers;

  • how to make proper objections when the DA presents the case;

  • how to concisely and cogently argue your defense to a jury.

 

I can go on and on about the nitty-gritty of courtroom litigation, but the bottom line is that you'll be at a major disadvantage to fight your case without legal representation.

 

Also, as a practical benefit, a privately retained lawyer can attend court on your behalf, so you don't have to miss work or other obligations and can avoid the hassle of court.

Representing Yourself

If you are interested in representing yourself to potentially save a few thousand bucks, I strongly advise you to at least have a lawyer review your case first. I offer a virtual legal consulting service where I closely analyze all of the evidence in your case and guide you whether you have the type of case where it makes sense to invest in fighting. If it's a case worth going to trial, I say get a lawyer. Or if you have prior DUI cases in your past, or other complicating factors, it's probably wisest to not represent yourself. But, if this is a first-time DUI offense, then self-representation may be a reasonable idea. For more information about representing yourself, please check out my page, Representing Yourself - Is it a Good Idea?

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