Maybe you’ve never thought about the consequences of being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or worse, convicted. Consequences vary state by state, but often include fines and jail time – depending on the severity of the incident. Such as, was there an accident? What was the blood-alcohol level? Do you have any prior incidents? Unfortunately, some states qualify all DUIs as felonies and are not able to be expunged. This can follow you for the rest of your life.
Do I Really Need an Attorney?
Although you can technically represent yourself in court, it really isn’t the best idea. I wouldn’t. Attorneys are trained to fight these types of cases, while the general public isn’t. Attorneys know what to look for – such as fine details that you could easily miss or not even know about. For example, details could determine that maybe you weren’t actually intoxicated above the legal limit.
Also, attorneys know how to negotiate with the prosecutor for lesser charges, fines, jail time, or other options. Cases such as DUIs and DWIs, or driving while intoxicated, can be very technical and require a thorough knowledge of the law, police procedure, and court procedure.
So what’s my story? I was a senior in college. My girlfriend at the time was a junior and lived on campus. She had a few friends over, including me, and we had a few drinks. I stayed really late after I stopped drinking for the night and eventually headed to my car, probably around 2 am. I sat in my car and didn’t feel quite right about driving just yet, so I thought I’d wait a while longer. I ended up falling asleep.
Next thing I knew I was awakened by loud knocking on my car window. I opened my eyes and saw a campus officer standing there – not looking very happy. I wasn’t particularly happy either and undoubtedly had a tone when I rolled my window down. I had only been asleep for about an hour so unfortunately I still smelled of alcohol. Afraid, I refused a breathalyzer test and was subsequently arrested.
Fortunately, my parents were able to hire an attorney for me that was well-versed in DUI laws. She knew the right questions to ask me to put together the events of the evening and come up with a strategy.
So What Happened?
As I mentioned, a knowledgable attorney can make all the difference between being convicted of a DUI or DWI, negotiating lesser charges or better sentencing options, or getting a case dismissed. In my case, I was never actually driving so I couldn’t be charged with “driving” under the influence or while intoxicated. I wouldn’t have even known that was an argument without my attorney. I am so thankful that she was able to help me. Later my attorney also helped me get that charge expunged so it doesn’t show up on my record. I was just starting out in life and I thought I’d already blown my chances at future job opportunities. Fortunately, I didn’t actually drive that night, but if I’d been on my own, I probably would have had to just enter a guilty plea or something. I didn’t know what to do.
Getting charged with a DUI can have many different outcomes. You might be guilty of driving under the influence, but maybe there was a technical error during the arrest, or it was your first ever run-in with the police. For these reasons and many, many others, call an experienced DUI attorney if you’re charged. Don’t go it alone!