DUI charges can have serious and lasting consequences. It’s normal to be worried about the outcome of the case and important to build a strong defense. However, many people charged with DUI are also concerned with the legal expenses associated with hiring a DUI defense attorney. If you have ever wondered “is it worth getting a lawyer for a DUI?” the short answer is yes, absolutely.
Even the best DUI defense attorney can never guarantee a specific result for your case, but only an experienced local attorney with specialized training in your state’s DUI laws gives you the best possible chance to have your case dismissed or to earn a verdict of Not Guilty. It’s possible to have the court appoint a public defender for you, or even to represent yourself in court, but neither option is advisable or offers you nearly as many advantages.
Read on to learn why you should never face DUI charges in court without a local DUI defense attorney by your side.
Table of Contents:
- The stakes couldn’t be higher.
- Self-representation is extremely risky.
- You’re statistically less likely to win without one.
- Clients of DUI Defense Attorneys have more satisfaction with the outcome.
- You’ll know exactly what to expect from a DUI trial.
- A local DUI Defense Attorney has familiarity with your court and its processes.
- You can benefit from any established relationships with court officials.
- DUI cases differ from state to state (and even within the state).
- The attorney may have current, specialized legal insights.
- Finding a DUI defense attorney can be fast and convenient.
The experience and expertise of a qualified attorney is irreplaceable in the complex proceedings of a DUI court case and invaluable in crafting an effective defense. Not only will an attorney give you the best chance to earn the most favorable outcome possible in your case, but they’ll be there by your side to guide you through the DUI court process.
However, your defense attorney does much more than simply help you to make sense of the case. Here are the top ten reasons you should never go to court without one.
10 Reasons to Hire a DUI Defense Attorney:
1. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
Even the consequences of a first DUI conviction can be severe. A conviction would stay on your permanent criminal record for life, potentially impacting employment opportunities, transportation, professional relationships, livelihood, and more for a long time. Your right to a normal life is at stake.
For example, in the state of Massachusetts a first offense carries potential penalties such as:
- Up to 2.5 years in jail (the maximum sentence for a DUI first offense in Massachusetts)
- A permanent misdemeanor or felony on your criminal record
- A lengthy suspension of your Massachusetts driver’s license
- Potential installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle (as of 2021)
- Costly fines
- Inquiries (or outright rejections) in future job searches
Anything you can do to increase your chances of minimizing or avoiding these long-lasting consequences entirely is more than worth the investment.
2. Self-representation is extremely risky.
You are technically allowed to represent yourself in a Massachusetts court (and other courts in the U.S.) if you so choose, but it is extremely unwise to do so. Why? DUI laws are complex and riddled with crucial case precedents and ongoing court proceedings around relevant items such as the reliability of breathalyzer devices. Without the focused training and experience of a DUI attorney, you’ll be at a severe disadvantage working against the more knowledgeable prosecution in your case.
Furthermore, a DUI court case is actually fought on two entirely separate fronts: criminal and administrative. For example, in Massachusetts the criminal court proceedings will be related to the arrest and DUI charges, but there are also completely unrelated administrative proceedings regarding your license to drive, which are handled by the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) and may result in a loss of your license regardless of the outcome of the criminal case.
A DUI defense attorney can assist you with both sides of the case, including administrative steps such as:
- License suspension hearings
- Appeals of RMV rulings or decisions
- Applications for hardship licenses
- License reinstatement hearings
A public defender, on the other hand, will often only represent you in criminal court and leave you to represent yourself to the RMV.
3. You’re statistically less likely to win without one.
Martindale-Nolo Research has shown that individuals who opt for self-representation or the services of a public defender are less likely to win in court than they would be with a private DUI defense attorney. A private DUI defense lawyer is 9% more likely to achieve a result with no conviction and 15% more likely to earn a plea deal for a lesser offense than a public defender, for instance. Having no lawyer at all may reduce your chances even further.
With the substantial impact that a conviction for DUI can have on your daily life, it’s well worth finding a good DUI defense lawyer in your area with a demonstrated track record of success in court. This is a worthy investment in protecting your future.
4. Clients of DUI Defense Attorneys have more satisfaction with the outcome.
Individuals who hire private legal counsel for their defense are 34% more satisfied with the results of their case (and 47% more satisfied with the quality of their representation) than persons who choose to work with a public defender. In fact, public defenders receive even lower levels of defendant satisfaction than individuals who decide to represent themselves.
In other words, a private DUI defense attorney is not just your best chance at achieving a positive outcome—it’s the choice that you’ll have the most confidence and comfort in when all is said and done.
5. You’ll know exactly what to expect from a DUI trial.
One of the most nerve-wracking things about DUI court proceedings without a lawyer is not knowing what you don’t know. Don’t go into court “blind” or concerned about what’s going to happen next. Hiring a DUI defense attorney gives you access to specialized knowledge and a steady hand at the tiller. Your attorney will guide you through all of the steps and help you to understand all potential outcomes from each stage of your DUI trial. It’s important to have someone by your side who knows what to expect.
6. A local DUI defense attorney has familiarity with your court and its processes.
Any DUI defense lawyer who has gone to trial numerous times in the court where your case will be tried will be well versed in the nuances and procedures of the local court system. This familiarity gives you insight into the smaller details that an out-of-area attorney may overlook. For example, not all courts follow precisely the same schedule. If most local courts start at 9:00 AM, but the district court hearing your case begins at 8:30 AM sharp and the judge is a stickler for punctuality, you’ll want to know in advance so you can be timely and set a good first impression.
7. You can benefit from any established relationships with court officials.
A local DUI attorney matters. As Attorney Richard Stim explains on Lawyers.com, “hiring an attorney who is familiar with local prosecutors could make an important difference in the bargain you get and in the penalties and post-conviction remedies that are imposed on you.” When you work with a lawyer who has extensive experience in the court that is servicing your case, there is a strong chance that they will also have pre-established relationships with judges, clerks, prosecutors, and other officials.
These existing relationships may work in your favor, as the people deciding the outcome of your case will have a working understanding of one another’s legal perspectives and find it easier to make effective arguments or to reach common ground in negotiations.
8. DUI cases differ from state to state (and even within the state).
Every state in the U.S. has a unique set of DUI laws with its own intricacies, court precedents, and established interpretations. DUI law isn’t a field of knowledge that can be picked up overnight with independent research at the level needed to successfully defend yourself in court.
Even within each state, every county and city will have unique local case law with relevant rulings on individual traffic signals or roadways in the area—things that only a DUI defense attorney with specialization in your area of the state would know and be able to draw into your defense portfolio. This is one reason that, for instance, we would always recommend that a defendant for a case in Worcester county, Massachusetts, should always find and select an attorney with established Worcester county experience.
9. The attorney may have current, specialized legal insights.
DUI law is always evolving as new cases move through court, policies change, and laws are amended. An ongoing case around the reliability of the Draeger Alcotest 9510 device, used in all Massachusetts DUI arrests, for example, could have a profound impact on the outcome of your case—or even alter the results of prior cases.
It’s important to have an attorney on your side who is up to date on current DUI law proceedings that may have an impact on your case. The most successful DUI defenses are often able to point to past lawsuits and current developments in DUI law that are relevant to the details of the case in question.
10. Finding a DUI defense attorney can be fast and convenient.
An experienced DUI defense attorney is not far out of reach. You can access the specialized knowledge of a person that practices DUI law exclusively without exhaustively pounding the pavement. Simply explore public online directories, enlist a lawyer referral service, or examine testimonies and case histories on attorneys’ individual websites (via Google search) to get a feel for your options, then schedule an in-person or virtual meeting to consult with the ones that are most likely to be a good match.
Many private DUI defense attorneys are even willing to come to you—a convenience in the likelihood that you’ve lost your license as a part of any arrest for DUI.
Charged With DUI? Don’t Wait. Find a Local DUI Attorney Today.
It’s hard to understate the value of understanding your defense options or what’s likely to happen during DUI court proceedings. If you’ve been charged with DUI, seek out an experienced local DUI defense attorney with a proven track record of success in cases similar to yours. Before you go in for your consultation, it will also help to prepare a list of questions to ask your attorney.
There’s no time to waste. Get started as soon as possible to give your attorney as much time as you can to go over case details and work with you on building an effective DUI defense.