DUI Attorneys & Drunk Driving Defense Lawyers near you
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The DWI / DUI Lawyer and Drunk Driving Criminal Defense Attorney Directory lists criminal defense lawyers and attorneys by State. All DUI lawyers and drunk driving attorneys listed specialize in DWI / DUI laws.
Do I need a DUI Lawyer or Drunk Driving Attorney?
This question is asked a lot by drivers who have been charged with drunk driving. Driving under the influence is a serious criminal offense which could result in jail time depending on which State a driver lives in and whether or not they are a repeat offender or it is their first offense.
So what are a defendants options?
A defendant who has been charged with driving under the influence has three options:
- They can hire a lawyer privately
- They can use a court appointed lawyer (a public defender)
- They can represent themselves (self-representation)
HIRING A PRIVATE DUI LAWYER / DRUNK DRIVING ATTORNEY
All defendants have a sixth amendment right to be represented by a criminal defense attorney of their choice.
Hiring a defense attorney privately is a good choice if finances permit. This is because private attorneys more often than not specialize in only specific areas of law, such as driving under the influence. This often means that these attorneys practice defending clients charged with DUI on a daily basis and know the relevant State laws, State legislation and any legal loopholes inside and out. They are considered experts in their field.
How do I find and hire a private drunk driving attorney?
DUI lawyers and drunk driving defense attorneys who specialize in drunk driving laws can be found in our DUI lawyers & attorneys directory.
It is recommended that defendants speak to at least two DUI lawyers before they make a decision about which one to hire & represent them in a court of law.
Many lawyers provide free legal consultations & DUI case reviews to potential clients. This could be either over the telephone or in person. A free consultation with a DUI lawyer is a good way for a defendant to asses the lawyers suitability, a good attorney-client relationship is vital to many successful drunk driving defenses.
COURT APPOINTED DUI LAWYERS / DRUNK DRIVING ATTORNEYS
Court appointed defense attorneys are also known as PUBLIC DEFENDERS
A defendant who feels they cannot afford to hire a lawyer on a private fee paying basis may ask the court to appoint a lawyer at the governments expense. Defendants who wish to do this must provide details of their financial eligibility (under oath), in order to be classed as legally indigent and must be facing a possible jail or prison sentence.
In some cases, judges may order an audit on the accuracy of a defendants supplied financial information and defendants who make false claims are liable to be prosecuted for perjury.
Each State and sometimes even each county have different qualifying criteria that defendants must meet in order to be eligible for a government funded court appointed attorney.
It is ultimately up to the judge whether or not a defendant is eligible for free legal representation by a public defender.
Court appointed public defenders do not specialize in any one area of law, unlike private attorneys. Public defenders often have very high caseloads making their time and resources for individual cases very limited.
Self representation in a court of law
If a defendant gives up the right to be represented by an attorney and understands court proceedings and wants to represent himself, he may do so as long as a Judge determines that the defendant is competent enough to do so.
Defendants charged with drunk driving are advised to find out the what the likely consequences & punishments upon conviction are in their State before they make a decision as to whether or not to represent themselves.
It is strongly advised that where any of the following factors are present, defendants DO NOT represent themselves:
- Serving jail time as a result of being convicted
- Pleading not guilty and taking a DUI case to trial
- Prior convictions for driving under the influence
- If one or more aggravating factors are present
State DUI legislature can be very complex and most defendants will simply not be competent and knowledgeable enough to successfully represent and defend themselves in a court of law.
What are the benefits of hiring a lawyer who specializes in DUI?
A lawyer who specializes in DUI cases is always a good investment considering the possible consequences upon conviction. The laws surrounding driving under the influence (DUI or driving while ability is impaired (DWAI / DWI) are complex and the consequences, penalties, punishments, fines and fee's are often severe.
Many people end up serving time in jail or prison as a result of a DUI conviction. A skilled drunk driving attorney specializing in DUI laws will carefully scrutinize all legal issues surrounding a particular case and may be able to get charges brought against a driver reduced or dropped altogether.
Other benefits of hiring a lawyer who specializes in DUI law includes:
- The lawyers ability to negotiate deals with prosecutors in a bid to reduce charges and secure less severe sentences
- Their ability to offer defendants an objective and knowledgeable perspective on their particular case, they can predict what the likely sentence will be upon conviction (this is vital when defendants are faced with the opportunity to make a plea bargain)
- Their expert knowledge on important legal rules, constitutions and State legislature
- Their familiarity and knowledge of the criminal court procedures
- Their ability and knowledge in performing legal research, gathering and examining evidence and talking to prosecution witnesses
Can you afford a DUI lawyer?
Money is always a deciding factor in the decision as to whether or not to hire a specialist DUI lawyer.
In a minority of cases the cost may outweigh the benefits, in the majority of cases the cost is justified and will be a small price to pay in the long run considering the possible consequences upon conviction.
Many lawyers will take a defendants financial circumstances into account and work with them in order to come to some kind of mutual financial agreement. They may be in a position to offer a defendant credit and work out a payment plan and/or offer a discount on their fees.
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Driving under the influence - aggravating factors
Aggravating factors surrounding a DUI case will usually increase the severity of any sentence imposed. Increased fines, jail time and drivers license suspension / revocation periods are common.
Aggravating factors in a DUI case can include:
- Prior DUI Convictions: If a defendant has any prior convictions for DUI, this will be classed as an aggravating factor.
- High BAC (Blood Alcohol Content): If a defendants BAC level is significantly higher than the maximum legal prescribed limit, this can be classed as an aggravating factor commonly referred to as aggravated DUI or extreme DUI.
- Minor in vehicle at time of offense: If a person is caught driving while intoxicated with a minor in the vehicle, this can be classed as an aggravating factor.
- Involved in an accident: If a defendant is involved in a road traffic accident while driving under the influence, this can be classed as an aggravating factor.
- Serious injury or fatality: If a defendant is involved in a road traffic collision that results in serious injury or a fatality, this will be classed as an extremely aggravating factor. Depending on state laws and circumstances a person may be charged with aggravated assault, manslaughter or homicide (murder) in addition to DUI.
What is classed as a high BAC (blood alcohol content) and the age at which a person is no longer classed as a minor can vary from state to state. As can the maximum legal BAC limit for certain drivers.
DUI laws and BAC limits by State