I'm not talking about a complicated D.U.I. case, where other people are injured or killed. In those cases, the charges against you would become criminal and the costs and exposure to extended jail time would increase significantly. I'm talking about a simple case, "I only had two beers, officer" case, no accident and no injuries.
How can a D.U.I cost so much? If you read my other article that sets forth the penalties for D.U.I.s, you'll see that the fines and court costs alone can be almost a $1,000.00 or more. Add a $1,000.00 surcharge for three years, and an insurance increase of around $1,500.00 pr year (assuming you can even obtain insurance), plus the costs of an ignition interlock device, if one is ordered. If your job requires driving as part of your responsibilities, you could be fired. So include loss of income during the suspension period. Even if you're not fired, just getting to and from work, can cost a significant amount of money over the period of suspension. And, if this isn't your first offense, you're facing two to ten years without a license. In addition, a D.U.I. never goes away. Every motor vehicle event that occurs during your lifetime remains on your driving record for life. There are no expungements for motor vehicle violations. Consequently, even if your current job doesn't require operating a vehicle, a future job may, and they will check your driving abstract, before they hire you.
Why am I telling you all of this? It's because occasionally I meet someone for a consult on their D.U.I. case who says "I can't afford a lawyer, I'll handle it myself". That's certainly, their right. Frankly, though, based on the potential penalties, I don't see how you can afford not to have a lawyer. Although no attorney can guarantee that they'll be successful in having a D.U.I. dismissed or a not guilty verdict rendered at a trial, you certainly stand a much better chance of winning, if you have an attorney who has significant experience in D.U.I. cases.
There are so many areas in which to challenge a D.U.I. that an untrained, non-lawyer really has no chance of winning. Issues arise, concerning the motor vehicle stop, Field Sobriety Tests, the officer's qualifications, the maintenance, preparation and administration of the Alcotest Machine, and many more. Only an experienced attorney can properly evaluate the evidence and prepare a defense.
All cases are fact sensitive, and attorneys and expert fees, if necessary, can vary, depending on the facts. But when you look at the potential consequences, you have to ask yourself "can I afford not to have an experienced attorney" As I've said, no attorney can guarantee a particular outcome, just as no doctor can guarantee a particular result of a procedure but, just as with doctors, or any profession, you're certainly more likely to have a positive result, with someone who has the training and experience in that particular field.
Obviously, the best choice is to not drink and drive, which will keep you and others on the road safe. However, if you a friend or family member is ever charged with a D.U.I., call my office for a Free Consultation. I've been handling D.U.I. cases for over 26 years. Please drive safely.
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