Every year, three million people get hurt in car accidents on American roads. Sometimes these accidents can result in serious charges, especially when distracted driving or drugs and alcohol are involved. Experts estimate that there are nearly 300,000 people driving drunk every day of the year, but only about 4,000 get arrested. A DUI charge for those who do get arrested can be life-altering. Despite how common drunk driving is, it’s serious because driving while impaired risks the lives of many people. A DUI charge and its consequences can vary depending on blood alcohol level, criminal and driving record, and whether someone was injured or even killed as a result of the drunk driving. Because it’s such a serious criminal charge, it’s important to know when you need a DUI attorney if you need to make a criminal defense against a DUI charge. Here’s what you need to know.
- Sometimes you don’t need a DUI lawyer. If you have never offended before, no one was hurt, and you definitely did drive while under the influence and are pretty certain of being convicted, you might not need to worry about finding a DUI lawyer. That’s because there’s little that can be done. You will be subject to the standard sentences and penalties, for the most part. However, there definitely are times when a DUI attorney is the smart move, even if it is your first offense.
- Get a criminal defense lawyer if the case is not a “slam-dunk.” The prosecution may be willing to bargain if they aren’t confident of an easy conviction. That’s because trials can be expensive and time consuming. They might accept a guilty plea to a lesser charge with reduced penalties rather than going through the expense and time of a trial they might ultimately lose. If you have any hope of plea bargaining, though, you want a competent DUI attorney on your side to make sure you aren’t fooled by any bluffs on the part of the prosecution and get the best deal possible. A lesser plea might be possible if your blood alcohol level was lower, or if it’s a first conviction.
- Get a DUI attorney if the case is particularly serious. If this isn’t your first offense and you know you’re going to be convicted, you will want to try and negotiate the sentence as low as possible, as well as negotiate with other penalties that could be applied, such as random drug testing, ignition interlock devices, loss of driving privileges, or fines. This bargaining will go a lot more smoothly with your DUI attorney at the helm.
- Get a criminal defense lawyer if you’re completely innocent. Field sobriety tests and even breathalyzers are not infallible. Sometimes they return false positives, and then your life could be ruined because of a faulty mechanism of some kind. If you’re pleading innocence, don’t ever try to go it alone.
- Get a criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the process. Especially if this is your first time to be charged with any kind of crime, you’ll appreciate having a criminal defense attorney to help you understand all the steps and get through them as smoothly as possible. The process can be baffling, and the police and prosecution are “insiders” who have a distinct advantage in that they know how the process works, what all the terminology means, and have been doing this for years. It’s not a bad idea to have someone on your side who is equally familiar with process and terminology.
A DUI charge is a serious criminal charge and should be taken very seriously. It can have serious short-term and long-term consequences to your life, freedom, and work. If you’re facing a criminal charge, consult with a DUI attorney to find out what your options are.