Should I hire a lawyer for my first DUI?

For many people, a DUI charge is the first legal matter requiring them to appear in court. Most fear the thought of going to court alone and prefer to have an attorney present, giving them peace of mind in the belief that they are going to reach the best possible outcome.

However, there are some who would rather face the unknown alone because the thought of hiring a lawyer is just as scary.

Some people arrested for DUI want to know whether hiring a lawyer will make a difference in the outcome of their case. I heard a great response to this question about 10 years ago. I had a friend who was arrested for DUI in Phoenix, Arizona. He was worried about going to jail in “Tent City” and wearing a pink jumpsuit but was skeptical about whether an attorney would make a difference because he believed that his case was unwinnable.

The Arizona attorney told my friend: “Look – if you hire me, I may win the case or I may not. However, if you do not hire an attorney, you have no chance of coming out on top.” My friend hired the attorney and avoided jail time. Could he have avoided jail time without an attorney? I don’t know for sure, but I believe the lawyer’s statement was true.

In DUI cases, lawyers may win the case on constitutional grounds (where evidence is excluded) or on the merits of the case (where evidence is insufficient to convict). Under the exclusionary rule of the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution, some of the mistakes police make result in people winning DUI cases. The exclusionary rule prevents law enforcement from benefitting from unlawful searches and seizures.

In some cases, the traffic stop is illegal and the case is thrown out. In other cases, the detention or arrest may be illegal resulting in the case being dismissed. Sometimes, chemical tests for blood or breath alcohol are invalid as well.

Unfortunately, a lawyer can’t analyze the facts of a case and commit to a specific legal argument until they have what is known as the “discovery” material. The discovery materials usually consist of police reports, videos, and records from the machines with which chemical tests of blood or breath are conducted. A DUI lawyer will analyze these materials and determine whether law enforcement made a mistake that was fatal to the case or whether the machines used by law enforcement were improperly maintained or defective.

Criminal defense lawyers usually describe criminal defense as being process-oriented. This means that the criminal defense lawyer may have several opportunities to meet the client’s goal and must ensure that he or she maximizes the opportunities to win the case by using disciplined methods of analyzing the case.

Finally, people facing DUI charges must also be aware of consequences. These can be long- and short-term. DUI convictions can result in lost jobs or prevent people from obtaining the career that they want.

For some people, hiring a DUI attorney is about doing everything possible to win the case. For others, it’s about minimizing damage. Regardless, most people who hire a DUI attorney take comfort in the fact that they are paying someone else to worry about the problem for them. One of the things that makes DUI attorneys valuable to clients is that they have been though the process. A first offense DUI can be a scary and uncertain thing. We have represented clients on second or third offense DUI charges who told us that they wished they had fought their first DUI charges.

In sum, at Berry Law, we believe hiring an attorney for a first DUI is a good decision. While the factual basis of every case is different, if there’s an opportunity to win the case, the attorney’s job is to find it. Additionally, hiring an attorney gives you peace of mind that someone else who has been there and has experience in courtroom procedures will be able to ensure that you get through the case with your rights protected and your future guarded.

If you or a loved one has received a first DUI charge, please contact us today.

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