When you are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the first thing you should start thinking about is your legal representation. DUI is a very serious offense. Depending on how many times you have committed the offense, whether there are other drug or alcohol-related arrests on your record and whether there are other charges pending against you, the consequences can be severe. A guilty verdict can result in time served in prison or jail, fines, license suspension, a breathalyzer device installed in your car, probation or drunk driving education classes.
A DUI could result in you losing your job if a clean criminal record and driver’s license is required for your work. It is likely the price of your car insurance will also increase drastically, making the cost of keeping your policy prohibitive.
Having the support of a DUI attorney before, during and after your trial can significantly increase your chances of a reduced sentence and better your ability to move on with your life after a verdict is delivered. However, the cost of hiring and retaining an attorney makes many people consider simply pleading guilty to their DUI charge.
Pleading guilty is not a decision that should be made without consulting an attorney first. In many cases, the state cannot prove that the DUI charge is warranted and fair. Although pleading guilty can result in a reduced charge, the cost of the consequences of a guilty plea can add up to much more than the cost of an attorney’s fees. Missed work and jail time can impact your professional life, resulting in lost wages or even job loss. Breathalyzer device installation, driver education classes and fines can cost you thousands of dollars in addition to an increase in your car insurance rates. The average DUI attorney’s fee is around $1000 to $3000, which is much less prohibitive than all of the other expenses that may result from your guilty plea.
Can I Expect a Free DUI Lawyer Consultation?
Many DUI lawyers offer free case evaluations and consultations. This will give you a chance to familiarize yourself with your rights and the legal process involved in a DUI case. At your free lawyer consultation, your attorney will also tell you more about what kind of verdict you can expect and whether he or she thinks you should enter a guilty plea or fight the charges in court. There are a few reasons why your attorney may prefer to go to court. If he or she decides this is your best choice, there is a good chance that your charges may be significantly reduced or even thrown out. No attorney will be able to give you a guarantee that you will receive reduced charges or that your case will be dismissed, because some judges are tougher on DUI charges than others. However, you can trust your attorney’s judgment because he or she has the experience and training to determine your best course of action.
At your free consultation, you can ask your attorney about his or her fees and anything that might cause his or her rates to increase during the trial. Most attorneys have options for a payment plans or allow their clients to pay on credit.
Many attorneys offer free case evaluations and consultations that will not be figured into your lawyer’s fee. If there is time, you should consult several attorneys before making a final decision on which one to hire. Talking to at least two DUI lawyers will give you more than one opinion on your case and its likely outcomes. You can also determine which lawyer to hire based on his or her rates, but remember that it is important to ensure that you have the best representation instead of focusing on cost, especially since you are likely to be facing many expenses after your trial if you do not have adequate representation.
How Do I Choose a DUI Attorney?
Most attorneys are well-qualified to represent you in a DUI case, but not all attorneys are equally experienced in DUI cases. Hiring a lawyer who specializes in DUI charges ensures that you are represented by someone who is familiar with the court system and knows how to defend a DUI charge in your court district.
You still may not know whether or not you need an attorney or whether you should enter a guilty plea. Depending on the severity of your charge, your first offense may not require the representation of a lawyer. In these cases, pleading guilty is your best course of action. However, getting a lawyer to pursue a dismissal of your charges may be possible. Consulting an attorney can give you a better idea of whether your case is worth pursuing in court. Your case may be thrown out if the court cannot prove that:
- you were told that you had the right to refuse a breathalyzer test
- evidence was properly managed after your arrest
- the breathalyzer was used in the correct manner and was functioning normally.
People who have had more than one DUI charge are likely to be considered repeat or habitual offenders by judges and prosecutors and will probably receive harsher penalties and sentences. Pleading guilty is not a good option in cases like this, and you should seek a lawyer’s advice before taking any action. The penalties for a second or third offense will be steeper than a first offense even if you plead guilty, but a lawyer will give you the best chance of having your charges reduced and eliminating the need for driver’s education classes and other measures the court may take to prevent you from offending in the future.
If you have been charged with a DUI, you are probably feeling a lot of anxiety and uncertainty about your future and your finances. Getting a free consultation from a lawyer can help you assess your legal options and can allow you to determine the best course of action for you.