Should I plead guilty to DUI?
One of the common questions that is probably not emphasized enough by Orange County DUI Lawyers is whether or not you should avoid the expense of having a DUI specialist represent you, and just plead guilty.
This page honestly and frankly discusses the pros and cons of proceeding without a lawyer, and what might happen if you were to plead guilty.
A note is required here – facts of a DUI can vary greatly, and if you have a borderline case that is a .07%/.08%, and you were found in a parked car sleeping, you will have a much different scenario than if you have priors for a DUI, drive at a high speed, with a high blood alcohol level, into a school bus full of kids and cause a major accident. For purpose of this discussion, it is assumed that you have a fairly standard first time DUI – that is, no priors, no accident, no children in the car, a blood alcohol level below a 0.15% and no other charges, like a suspended license, hit and run with a DUI, or resisting arrest.
Should I plead guilty to DUI? – the procedures with and without a lawyer.
When you are facing a DUI in OC and hire a DUI lawyer in Orange County, the lawyer generally makes all court appearances for you. One of the advantages of having a lawyer is that the lawyer can be in court for you, on your behalf, as your agent, without you having to be there. That can save you a substantial amount of time.
A lawyer will appear for the first court appearance, your DUI arraignment, and will handle every court appearance possible throughout the case process.
When you appear without a lawyer, since lawyers go first, you will spend more time at each court appearance. The judge presumes lawyers know the law and rights, but will require you to go through a process involving a handout, a speech, and a video (in some courts) to advise you of your rights. You will then be asked if you want to represent yourself, apply for the public defender, or get more time to hire your own attorney, before you will be asked guilty or not guilty in your case.
Lawyers generally will negotiate and investigate all defenses in a DUI case based on their experience and education. That alone can go further than a person representing themselves.
Should I plead guilty to DUI? – the potential punishment with and without a lawyer.
Assuming the minimal facts above, the range of punishment for the DUI charge could be the same with or without a lawyer. That is, most judges in Orange County would give you the minimum sentence, which is:
- Three years of informal probation;
- Attendance at an Orange County first time offender alcohol school;
- Possible attendance at the one time Orange County MADD VIP Panel presentation (not all judges impose this for Orange County DUI cases); and
- Fines and fees that total just under $2000 ($1,922 as of this writing, with regular increases scheduled by law).
A lawyer can usually request credit for your arrest and minimize fees somewhat. But in some cases, a lawyer may be able to show how a DUI case should actually be dismissed, or reduced to a different charge, which can protect you from a criminal or driving record conviction, or substantially reduce the penalties for you.
That won’t happen if you plead guilty up front, and you may spend years dealing with the effects of a DUI and wonder if something better could have been done.
Should I plead guilty to DUI? – weighing the facts of your case.
Hiring a professional is always recommended, whether it’s for surgery, an audit, or legal proceedings. But you always have to weigh the cost of a DUI lawyer versus what that lawyer might be able to gain in your case.
If you need an attorney, or want to discuss the pros and cons of your particular case, contact us today. We can help with Orange County DUI cases.