The short answer is “yes”. Anyone charged with a crime can to waive their right to an attorney and proceed “pro se.” Is it advisable to do so? Now that is an entirely different question, with an entirely different answer… “no”. Most people choose to hire an experienced OUI lawyer. Here’s why:
You’re Facing Proceedings on Two Fronts
OUI arrests in Massachusetts consist of both criminal proceedings in court, and “administrative” proceedings with the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). The RMV side of the coin can include:
- License suspension hearings
- Appeals of RMV rulings or decisions
- Applications for hardship licenses
- License reinstatement hearings
Public defenders can only represent you in criminal court, which would leave you to represent yourself to the RMV. With a private Massachusetts OUI lawyer, on the other hand, you’ll have experienced guidance to help you work through both sides of your case.
OUI Laws are Complicated
Private OUI lawyers keep a pulse on the ever-evolving OUI laws in Massachusetts so that you don’t have to. Without legal expertise, it would be extremely difficult to weigh the pros and cons of going to trial, the chances of various outcomes in your case, and the strengths or weaknesses in the state’s evidence against you.
Also, there are likely to be viable defenses of which you are unaware of or ways to negotiate penalties down from standard plea arrangements. Every case is unique, and the opinion of someone trained in the intricacies of the law and experienced in a wide variety of OUI cases is going to be an invaluable asset as you weigh your options.
The Penalties of Conviction are Harsh
Massachusetts has among the harshest OUI laws in the country. They can be even more so if:
- You have prior convictions
- There was a crash involved
- Anyone was seriously hurt or killed
- You were driving with a CDL for work
- A minor was in the vehicle
There’s also a steep learning curve to fighting a case at trial. While you’re entitled to try representing yourself, it’s rarely wise to do it on your own. Any opportunity to strengthen your defense makes an enormous difference when so much is hanging in the balance.
You might be considering pleading Guilty just to get it over with, but a qualified OUI lawyer may be able to find flaws or mitigating factors in the case that would give you a chance in court. Even a failed breathalyzer test with a BAC over .08% can be successfully fought at trial in the right circumstances.
If you’re considering your options as you prepare to fight a charge of OUI, it’s essential that you work with an experienced Massachusetts OUI lawyer to put yourself in the best position to beat your case.