Do I need an attorney?
The only time you should always be represented by an attorney is when you appear in a criminal matter. The United States Constitution provides that if the state is trying to charge you with a crime -- you are entitled to be represented. The United States Supreme Court, and every state and Federal Court in the USA, considers this such a fundamental right, that you will have an attorney appointed for you if you cannot get one on your own.
In no other area of law - from small claims and traffic tickets, up to multi-billion dollar civil cases, class actions, and civil appeals, are you required to have an attorney. There is too much at stake when you are charged with a crime, and the entire system recognizes that.
The reasons to hire an attorney to represent you in court include the following:
The law is complicated and changes on a regular basis.
Attorneys are trained in the law and know the rules and procedures that apply in your favor, on your behalf.
Attorneys are trained to investigate and evaluate the facts of cases just like yours.
Attorneys are trained to recognize legal problems and solve them by applying the law and the facts.
An attorney will listen to your specific, individual, legal problem and proceed based on knowledge of your problem and his or her experience.
The rules and procedures for court motions, hearings, trials and other processes in court are complicated.
An attorney will already be familiar with the rules and procedures involved in your case.
You won't have to spend the time and energy learning the rules and procedures.
The attorney you hire will be skilled in representing people just like you in your specific subject matter.
An attorney will be skilled in methods of obtaining a positive result, including defending your case, going to court, and negotiating towards resolving your matter.
What can a DUI specialist do for me?
A qualified DUI attorney, can review the case for defects, suppress evidence, compel discovery of such things as calibration and maintenance records for the breath machine, have blood samples independently analyzed, negotiate for a lesser charge or reduced sentence, obtain expert witnesses for trial, contest the administrative license suspension, and handle a DUI trial with the greatest odds of success.
We will make sure that the State can prove all of the elements of the case. We are entitled to all reports that are favorable to your defense and the identity of all witnesses who may testify against you. We always obtain the patrol car video as part of your case. These tapes are very helpful in the defense of a case.
We are entitled to contest certain aspects of the case prior to a trial. We use motions to suppress evidence that has been gathered illegally. In some cases, a granting of a motion or the presentation of a motion to the State will cause them to dismiss the case or reduce the charges. We do whatever we can to win the case before we go to trial. In the event that a trial is necessary, we know the expert witnesses who can testify about the field sobriety tests or chemical tests. We can promise one thing if you don’t have an attorney: There is a 100% chance that you will be found guilty if you plead guilty.
We win DUI cases all the time -- a win is obviously a “not guilty” verdict or an outright dismissal. However, a DUI charge that is dropped or reduced to another offense is also a “win” for the client. Frequently, either before or during a hearing on a motion to suppress, a prosecutor will appreciate the weakness of the case and reduce the charge, because they understand that a DUI may be difficult to prove.
After learning of the facts of your case, we will tell you what we need to do to win and what our chances of success are Whether or not you hire a lawyer can have a big impact on your case so you may want to think carefully before making a decision. If you do decide to hire a DUI lawyer there are several things to consider so that you find the best lawyer possible to represent you.
DUI is a criminal conviction that stays with you for the rest of your life, and it must be disclosed on job, housing, and financial applications. A DUI is a Misdemeanor. Defendants who plea as charged without an attorney often do not realize the full impact their decision until it is too late, and the consequences may include mandatory jail time, fines, possible loss of driving privileges, possible vehicle forfeiture and higher insurance premiums.
Obviously, the consequences are more serious if you have a subsequent DUI. That is why you want to do it right the first time if you are unfortunate enough to be charged with one. There are often issues to address regarding whether or not the field sobriety tests were administered correctly. Any knowledgeable DUI attorney knows that if these tests are not administered correctly, they can produce inaccurate results that can lead to an improper DUI charge, the equivalent of a false-positive for a medical test. However, the problems with DUI cases do not end there.
There are also quite a few ways that a knowledgeable DUI attorney may be able to undermine the breath test results, including:
- The test was not administered correctly; for example, the officer did not warm up the machine to the correct operating temperature or ensure an adequately deep lung sample.
- The officer was not properly trained or qualified to operate the breathalyzer.
- The breathalyzer was not calibrated or maintained properly.
- The result was affected by some characteristic of the driver, such as age, lung function, overall strength and size, a condition such as asthma, diabetes, eardrum rupture, ketosis, emphysema, bronchitis, shock or trauma, or hiccoughing, burping, vomiting or hyperventilating.
- The defendant was exposed to a gas or vapor before the test, such as vapors from painting, floor sanding, varnishing or other activity with chemical exposure.
- A product that can affect the result was used in the driver's mouth, such as mouthwash or adhesive. Mouthwash will actually make the interlock devices on cars prevent them from being started.
There are more ways that the breath test results can be called into question, but they are too numerous to list here. Combined with the issues surrounding field sobriety tests, you can see why there are plenty of reasons you don't want to go to court without a knowledgeable attorney if you are charged with a DUI. There are too many things that need to be looked at in these cases. It is definitely not cheap to get your DUI case properly evaluated and possibly fought in court by a knowledgeable attorney. However, the consequences are more far-reaching than just the money you would save by going into court without an attorney or with a cheap attorney and entering a plea as charged.
THEREFORE, If you are arrested for DUI, you need to hire an attorney who is capable of evaluating whether these tests were administered properly. As I mentioned, if these tests are not administered in substantial compliance with NHTSA rules, they must be thrown out. A good DUI attorney is one who is familiar with these rules and is willing to put in the work to hold the prosecution to their standard of proof in court. I will tell you right now: attorneys like this are not cheap, nor should they be. If you are arrested for DUI and you want to hire a cheap attorney who will do nothing but stand next to you while you plead guilty as charged without having your case properly evaluated, that is your prerogative. However, you should think of it this way: if you needed an important operation, would you just settle for the cheapest surgeon you could find, or would you want one who has the knowledge and work ethic necessary to perform that operation properly?
With DUI cases, there is more at stake than just a fine. Your freedom is in jeopardy, your standing with your auto insurance company can be damaged, you may have trouble finding a job, and you may lose your ability to drive for an extended period of time. Given the issues I raised above, if you got a DUI would you really want to just fold your cards without having your case properly evaluated?
If you would like to speak in person, or have questions, please call (877) 568-2977, or email us through the Contact the Firm page.