Should You Hire A Lawyer If You’ve Been Charged With A DUI?
Arrested and charged with a DUI? Thinking about getting a lawyer to represent you?
Many people choose to drink alcohol from time to time, and unfortunately, sometimes people choose to drive after they’ve had enough alcohol to put them over the legal limit.
Getting charged with a DUI can cause a lot of stress, worry, and apprehension. Part of this stress comes from the ramifications of the charge: most people know that DUIs can carry harsh penalties, but let’s examine exactly what those penalties are:
If someone happens to be pulled over in Florida while driving with a BAL (blood alcohol level) of 0.08 or above and charged with a DUI, the consequences can be quite severe. For example, according to the Florida DMV, a first conviction can bring with it fines of $250 to $500, 50 hours of community service, up to a year of probation, up to 6 months of imprisonment, license revocation for a minimum of 180 days, and 12 hours of DUI school.
A second conviction can involve a fine of not less than $1,000, and up to 9 months imprisonment. The fines can be higher if your BAL is 0.15 or higher.
Subsequent convictions carry even heavier fines.
To add to the stress of having to potentially deal with those, there is also anxiety from having to go through the court process — especially if the person has no experience with court. It can feel intensely overwhelming!
Consider it from a psychological standpoint:
– the looming dread of knowing that you’re potentially going to get in (a lot of) trouble
– having to go through an unfamiliar process (court)
– potentially having to defend yourself against people who are familiar with all the details of the law, meanwhile you know very little
– having to deal with it all alone
Each of those feelings builds on the next one and the result is additional stress and anxiety.
If you choose to represent yourself you may end up bearing the full brunt of all of these.
A DUI lawyer can work with you and the court to potentially lessen the fine. Simply having someone in your corner who can not only explain everything to you but who is also working in your best interest can help make the process a lot less stressful for you.
A lawyer may bring to light evidence which casts doubt upon the evidence presented against you. Sometimes law officials make mistakes, and a lawyer is going to be much better able to analyze and examine the data from this process in order to look for mistakes which may work in your favor than you are.
In some cases, it may even be possible for a lawyer to get the charges dropped without ever having to go to court.
Lawyers may often have relationships with judges and can leverage this to your advantage. He may be able to negotiate a reduced penalty better than you would be able to if representing yourself in court.
There is one primary objection that people tend to have toward getting lawyer, however, and that is cost. Many people instinctively think “lawyers are expensive!” The issue, however, becomes a personal choice of whether or not the potential benefits of having a lawyer on your side outweigh the added cost. Retaining a lawyer may cost more money upfront, but what if doing so allows you to get a reduced penalty, or even avoid a conviction altogether? Is that better than risking a suspended license (which may make getting to work more difficult), community service (which takes away time you could be spending with your family) or even possible imprisonment?
That choice comes down to what you decide is your best option.