Every year, over 10,000 people are killed because of drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Driving under the influence (DUI) puts everyone else on the road at huge risk for injuries or death, and—in some U.S. states—it is a serious criminal charge. When a driver is charged with DUI, they can face license suspension, huge fines, and jail time for the offense.
If you have been impacted by a DUI arrest or charge, you might wonder if it’s worth getting a lawyer. Many times, it’s a good idea to have attorney representation for a DUI. However, there may be situations where it may not make a huge difference in how your case turns out.
When Getting a Lawyer for DUI Is Worth It
First, let’s go over some of the ways of having a lawyer for a DUI that is worth it to you.
Negotiating a Plea Bargain
DUI court cases are lengthy and expensive—so many times, the state may offer a plea bargain. Plea bargains present an opportunity to potentially get lesser penalties, such as shorter license suspension, lower fines, and avoiding jail time, for pleading guilty. This prevents the case from having to go to trial, as well.
You might assume there is no need to hire a lawyer for a DUI if you have the opportunity for a plea bargain. However, prosecutors are very skilled at making a plea bargain seem much better than it actually is. If they have a weak case and don’t want you to know it, they may bluff and try to make the bargain seem advantageous to you—when it really isn’t.
An experienced DUI lawyer can look at your case and determine what is actually a good deal. If they find you are not being given the full picture, they will know how to negotiate with the prosecution and work towards a better deal. This can be especially advantageous to you if you are facing a second or third DUI charge with serious penalties.
Seeking a Reduced Sentence
In some situations, the prosecution may be open to reducing your sentence in exchange for you pleading “guilty.”
You should generally never do this without consulting a lawyer for your DUI first. As mentioned above, the prosecution may make a guilty plea seem like the best option for you—when that is not the truth. A DUI lawyer can also point out any inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case and work to get certain pieces of evidence thrown out. This is rarely possible to do without an attorney.
An attorney can make sure the reduced sentence being offered is actually worth it in exchange for the guilty plea. They may try to negotiate for a charge like reckless driving, which generally has much fewer penalties than DUI.
Situations Where You May Not Need a DUI Lawyer
It may not be worth getting a lawyer for DUI if:
- You are facing your first DUI offense
- There were no injuries from the accident
- It’s very likely you will be convicted of DUI
The chances of you being convicted are usually high if there is strong evidence against you—such as the arresting officer smelling alcohol on your breath, documenting your erratic driving, etc—and if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is very high. Depending on the circumstances, it might be best to accept the sentence and standard penalties if it’s your first offense.
In California and all other states except Utah, the legal limit is a 0.08% blood alcohol level. If your BAC has been documented at 0.08% or higher, it’s likely you will be convicted of DUI no matter the other evidence against you.
However, even in this situation, it’s a good idea to consult with a DUI lawyer just to be sure. They can let you know how your case looks from a legal professional’s perspective and make sure you have a clear picture of your chances.
Get a FREE Consultation with a DUI Lawyer
At Simmrin Law, we have been helping people with DUI charges for years. To schedule a FREE, no-obligation consultation with the best DUI lawyer for you, call us today at 310-340-0302 or contact us online now.