I’ve been arrested for a DUI. Do I need a lawyer?
In theory, you can handle your DUI case on your own without a lawyer, and there is no requirement that a lawyer represent you. But is it recommended?
Here are eight reasons to hire a Napa DUI lawyer:
1. Stress Off Your Shoulders
The first thing you will notice after hiring a DUI lawyer is that you can now relax. Your questions are answered. Your case—and most of your stress—is off your shoulders and handed over to your lawyer.
You now have an ally and a confidant.
2. Understanding Your Rights
DUI convictions can carry serious consequences such as jail time, steep fines, probation, DUI classes, and the suspension of your driver’s license. Accordingly, our Constitution provides you with significant rights and protection. But if you don’t know your rights, then it can be easy to give them up without knowing it.
A good DUI lawyer will make sure you understand all of your rights before you give any of them up.
3. DUI Law is a Specialty Area of Law
To you, your case might seem simple and straightforward. For instance, you might think, “I had too much to drink, got behind the wheel when I shouldn’t have and blew over the legal limit. How is there a defense?”
The fascinating thing about practicing DUI law is that every case is different. The officers could have violated your Fourth Amendment rights, thus resulting in a dismissal of your entire case, regardless of your blood alcohol levels. Or there could have been a problem with the officer’s testing. Or it’s possible, based on a “rising defense,” that at the time you were driving you were not actually over the legal limit even though your test results when pulled over show a blood alcohol reading of over .08.
Trust me, your case is never as simple as it may seem.
4. Expert Retesting & Evaluation
The District Attorney’s Office has the benefit of Department of Justice forensic toxicologists who analyze your blood test results and will testify against you at trial. You deserve the same advantage. A good DUI lawyer will ensure you have a similarly qualified expert opinion on your side.
As mentioned above, your case is never as simple as it may seem. A key benefit to having legal representation is the ability to get your blood results retested and analyzed by an expert. Having a former Department of Justice forensic toxicology expert on your side can change the outcome of your case.
5. A Better Outcome
More than anything, a good DUI lawyer is an excellent negotiator. They have the ability to point out the flaws in the prosecution’s case and emphasize the strengths of your defense. They are respected by the local judges and have a good working relationship with the prosecutors at the District Attorney’s Office. They highlight the good character of their client and ultimately can negotiate the best possible plea bargain.
Reduced charges, reduced fines, no jail time, or alternative sentences are all huge advantages to hiring a respected lawyer.
Of course, the best outcome isn’t always secured through negotiation. Sometimes it is necessary to refuse an offer and take your case to trial. Having a local attorney presenting your case to the local community can be a huge asset in achieving a not guilty verdict.
6. Navigate the DMV & Keep Your License
Immediately following a DUI arrest, the arresting officer will write and file a police report that is forwarded to both the local District Attorney and the California DMV for prosecution. So your case will proceed under these two distinct branches: the criminal branch and the administrative (DMV) branch.
If you’ve never handled it before, the DMV side of your case can be incredibly complicated. The consequences of your ignorance can be devastating. A lawyer with experience winning DMV hearings can fight to keep your license.
Alternatively, if your license does become suspended, your lawyer can help you navigate the DMV so you can obtain a restricted license, allowing you to drive to and from work.
7. Court Appearances
If you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI, you will be ordered to appear in court to face your charges. However, if you hire legal representation, your lawyer can appear for you pursuant to California Penal Code Section 977. The practical effect of this statute is that you will never need to appear in court, unless you decide to take your case to jury trial or you just really want to be there.
This statute is a huge benefit to clients who can’t miss work, live out of the state, or want to avoid any potential public shame associated with appearing in court and facing criminal charges.
8. Your Future
For most people who are arrested for a DUI, this is the first time they have ever been in a situation like this. They have a clean record and want to keep it that way. Like most folks, you are concerned about how a DUI conviction might impact your current or future employment. Rightfully so. Don’t take any chances. Speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
A DUI lawyer can explain the potential consequences of a DUI conviction as well as the options available to you in the future for getting a conviction removed from your record.