Weaving your way through an arrest for a first time DUI can be daunting! Dealing with the DMV and the court system is intimidating, often confusing, and sometimes a very lengthy and frustrating process.
As a California Criminal Defense Attorney, I get asked all the time by current and potential clients whether there is really anything to gain from hiring an attorney for a first time DUI arrest. Most people wonder if they should just save the money and spend it on something else. Usually the question comes from clients who are frustrated by the fact that they spent their hard earned money on an attorney to fight their case and they received the same results they would have received without an attorney.
Other times the question comes from someone who is contemplating spending their money on an attorney but is uncertain that it is worth it. Let’s face it, you know how much you had to drink that night and you know whether you were actually drunk when you were pulled over. You think: I’m guilty and would rather just face the music rather than fight, right? Wrong! There is too much to lose and you should fight!
What I try to explain to clients who are considering this decision is that an attorney can help you through this process whether the result ultimately achieved is beneficial to you or not. In addition, you never know whether an attorney will be able to get you a beneficial result until they are on the case and have had an opportunity to review all the evidence against you.
“I think I will just go to court by myself and take whatever punishment is coming!” If this is your mindset, I can outline the headaches that lie ahead and the punishment you will receive with 100% certainty. You will get a 6-10 month suspension of your driver’s license and will be required to complete a 3-9 month alcohol class ranging in cost from $400-$1500. You will be required to pay fines to the court of at least $1,500, not to mention rising insurance rates after a conviction. There will also be time spent at a MADD panel meeting, a possible unpleasant visit to the Morgue, the inconvenience of being shuttled around by friends and loved ones for a month or longer (or worse, navigating public transportation), the burden of a 3 year probationary period, and hassles with the DMV. You will waste time in line at the DMV trying to get your restricted license only to be told you didn’t follow the proper steps, or worse, you’re not eligible. You will wait for hours in court for the judge to call your case. All this time will be spent away from work, family and loved ones.
Avoiding some, if not all, of these hassles might be worth the money by itself. Still, there are many other issues that an Attorney will consider and negotiate to spare you this hassle. Now you’re wondering: What can an Attorney possibly do to help me? First, they can walk you through the process and answer any questions that might arise throughout. Trust me, you will have hundreds of questions. Second, they will save you significant time by appearing on your behalf in court and at the DMV. Third, there are several issues that an Attorney can attack to potentially have your charges reduced or dismissed. They can ensure that the Police Officer who arrested you accurately and properly wrote his report, that the machines used to check your BAC (Blood Alcohol Level) were maintained and serviced in accordance with the law, that the reason you were pulled over was legitimate, that your rights were not violated, and that all the other technical laws and procedures required were followed.
Now, you are probably wondering why you don’t just go with a Public Defender to save some money. You think: hey, if I get a free attorney, problem solved, right? Again, Wrong! A Public Defender is a qualified attorney; however, they never deal with the DMV and will not, under any circumstances, represent you before the DMV. Let’s face it, the difficulty of the DMV and the threat of losing your drivers license is probably the worst part of this entire process. Why not hire an attorney who will represent your interests before both the DMV and the Court? Furthermore, you will have numerous questions as this process progresses and you would be lucky to get 10 minutes with your public defender to ask these questions. Finally, you will still be required to come to court for each appearance if you are represented by a Public Defender.
Save yourself a ton of headaches and even more time. Spend the money to have your interests before the DMV and the courts protected by a competent DUI attorney. The punishment is too severe and the consequences too long lasting not to fight.