Why hire a DUI Lawyer? A conviction for driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol can have many long-term impacts and collateral consequences. Individuals who sustain a DUI conviction can receive fines, community service, and even jail time in some instances.
Not having a lawyer represent you in a DUI case can be a serious mistake. Moreover, if you show up to a criminal court hearing or trial without legal representation, a judge does not have to postpone your court date. In fact, the judge can make you go forward with your case without legal representation.
Therefore, if you are facing a criminal DUI charge, you must have a knowledgeable attorney by your side representing you throughout your case.
Your lawyer will explain all of your legal options to you and can negotiate with the prosecuting attorney for a favorable plea deal. In addition, your attorney can represent you at all criminal court proceedings and advocate for your legal interests there. Your lawyer will do everything possible to help you get the best possible result in your case.
- How Does Alcohol Affect a Driverâs Brain?
- Defining DUI and OWI in Various Jurisdictions
- Help From a Lawyer After Your DUI Arrest
- What Does a State Prosecutor Need to Demonstrate in a DUI Case?
- Common Legal Defenses to a Criminal DUI Charge
- Potential Penalties if You Sustain a DUI Conviction
- Why an Experienced DUI Lawyer is Worth the Financial Cost
- Contact a Knowledgeable DUI Lawyer in Your Region Today
How Does Alcohol Affect a Driver’s Brain?
Alcohol can significantly affect a driver’s brain and the central nervous system’s ability to function. As a depressant, alcohol consumption slows down brain functioning. An intoxicated driver's vision might become blurry, and they may not see a vehicle or a pedestrian. Moreover, an intoxicated driver might experience a delay in their reaction time and be unable to stop their vehicle in time to avoid a dangerous collision.
The best way to avoid a DUI charge or conviction is not to operate your vehicle after consuming any amount of alcohol. Alcohol affects people in different ways, and ingesting even a small amount can impair a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely and carefully.
Defining DUI and OWI in Various Jurisdictions
The term DUI stands for driving under the influence of alcohol. Some jurisdictions also use the acronym OWI or operating while intoxicated as an alternative to DUI. In other jurisdictions, OWI and DUI are separate criminal offenses.
For a police officer to arrest you for DUI, they typically have to have probable cause that you were under the influence of alcohol and that alcohol impaired your driving abilities.
The legal standards for DUI and OWI vary based on the jurisdiction where the arrest occurs. However, in most regions, a person who has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more is legally intoxicated. Stricter standards usually apply to commercial vehicle drivers, including the operators of tractor-trailers and big rigs, and minors.
In most jurisdictions, the legal cutoff for a commercial driver is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent. There is usually a zero-tolerance policy in effect for minors under 21 at the time of their DUI arrest.
Even in cases where a driver has a lower blood alcohol concentration below 0.08 percent, a police officer can still arrest them if the officer believes that the driver was impaired.
In determining whether or not alcohol impaired a driver, the police officer will typically look for various physical manifestations, including slurred speech, a staggering gait, and bloodshot eyes. In addition, if a police officer suspects that a driver has been drinking, they might administer a field sobriety test to determine if the driver is intoxicated.
A field sobriety test may include walking in a straight line to see if the person staggers or loses their balance while walking. If a driver fails their field sobriety test, that may be sufficient cause for a police officer to arrest them for DUI—even if they have a lower blood alcohol concentration of less than 0.08 percent.
Police officers also have the training to look for other signs of impaired driving, such as speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, and otherwise operating a motor vehicle in an erratic manner. If a police officer observes any of these activities, that might be sufficient cause for them to pull the vehicle over and eventually arrest the driver for DUI.
If a police officer recently arrested you for DUI, you must have an experienced lawyer’s help right away. An attorney can be on the phone with you or in your presence during any police questioning, ensuring that you do not say something that will cause harm to your case. Your lawyer can then assist you throughout the remainder of your criminal case and work to obtain the best possible result on your behalf.
Help From a Lawyer After Your DUI Arrest
You must retain a knowledgeable DUI lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest. When a police officer arrests you for suspected DUI, they might begin asking you various questions.
If that happens, you should not answer any of these questions, other than general intake information—such as your name and address—without having a lawyer present during the questioning. Otherwise, the police officer can use anything you say against you later in your DUI case. In addition, you should not make any statements about whether you had been drinking or how much you had to drink before getting behind the wheel.
If you have a lawyer present during questioning, the lawyer can object or instruct you not to answer a particular question that the police officer asks. Generally speaking, the earlier that you retain a DUI defense lawyer to represent you in your case, the better off you will be and the more options you will have to resolve your matter favorably.
What Does a State Prosecutor Need to Demonstrate in a DUI Case?
As with other criminal cases in most jurisdictions, the state prosecutor has the legal burden of proof in a DUI criminal case. Therefore, for the prosecutor to win their case, they have to demonstrate that the driver was intoxicated or impaired beyond a reasonable doubt.
This burden is the highest legal burden of proof, and the prosecutor has to prove their case beyond a doubt based upon ordinary reason and common sense. This requirement can be a very high hurdle to overcome.
The defendant (i.e., the individual whom the police officer arrested for DUI) does not need to prove anything or even testify at trial. Rather, the sole legal burden of proof rests with the government prosecutor.
Common Legal Defenses to a Criminal DUI Charge
One of the main reasons why you should retain an experienced criminal defense DUI lawyer in your case is to determine whether you can raise a valid legal defense to your charge. There are numerous defenses that your lawyer might assert on your behalf in court.
First of all, your attorney can contest any field sobriety test results and the results of a Breathalyzer test. For example, the Breathalyzer equipment that the police officer used might have been defective somehow.
Similarly, you might suffer from a health condition, such as acid reflux disease, which can lead to a false Breathalyzer test result.
Finally, your lawyer might argue that even if you were impaired when a police officer administered your breathalyzer or field sobriety test, you were not intoxicated when you were behind the wheel. This statement is because it can sometimes take a while for the effects of alcohol to manifest.
Depending upon the circumstances of your DUI arrest, a knowledgeable criminal DUI defense lawyer in your area can raise any of these legal defenses on your behalf. If a judge or jury believes one or more of these defenses, the court might be in a position to dismiss your pending criminal charge.
Potential Penalties if You Sustain a DUI Conviction
Another reason it is vital to retain a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer in your case is because of the potential penalties that you can incur upon conviction. The penalties for a DUI conviction vary greatly based upon the jurisdiction where your case is pending.
However, a DUI conviction may result in court-imposed community service, jail time, and hefty monetary fines in many areas. In addition, you might lose your license to drive for a lengthy period.
Finally, the court might order you to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. After installation, you will need to blow into the device to start your vehicle. If the device detects any alcohol on your breath, your car or truck will not start. In addition to initial installation costs, you will need to pay to maintain the device, usually every month.
In addition to these legal penalties, numerous collateral consequences often result from a criminal DUI conviction. For example, after one of these convictions, it might be difficult for you to find a job—or in some cases, keep your job—if your employer finds out about your conviction.
Likewise, it might be difficult for you to find a school that will accept you into their program since admissions officers frequently perform criminal background checks on prospective students. If an administrator discovers that you have a prior DUI conviction on your record, they may deny you admission to their educational institution.
The best way to avoid these types of penalties in a DUI case is to avoid a conviction in the first place. A lawyer might help you by negotiating a favorable plea deal with the prosecuting attorney handling your case or arguing a valid legal defense in court on your behalf.
However, if you ultimately sustain a conviction in your case, a lawyer can still be beneficial. For instance, your lawyer can represent you at a sentencing hearing and work to minimize the potential legal penalties and collateral consequences that a court might impose in your case.
Why an Experienced DUI Lawyer is Worth the Financial Cost
The fee that a DUI lawyer charges will depend on the complexity of your case and the DUI lawyer's experience. However, having an experienced attorney represent you during your DUI case is an asset in almost all circumstances.
First of all, as stated previously, if you go it alone and show up to a court hearing without legal representation, a judge can make you go forward with your trial without having a lawyer present. This situation is almost certain to garner an unfavorable result. Moreover, if you sustain a DUI conviction, the fines and jail time you can receive will be far more significant than the financial cost of hiring a good DUI defense lawyer to represent you.
Finally, it is essential to remember that many DUI lawyers regularly have a good rapport with the criminal court prosecutors and judges. If you have a skilled DUI defense attorney representing you, they might get a far more generous plea deal from the prosecutor than you can get on your own or with a less-experienced attorney. Therefore, the benefits of having a skilled DUI lawyer represent you throughout your case far outweigh the potential costs of hiring one.
Contact a Knowledgeable DUI Lawyer in Your Region Today
Representing yourself is never a good idea in a criminal DUI case. If you have a DUI case pending, the sooner you involve an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you, the better off you will be. Your lawyer can safeguard all of your legal rights while your criminal case is pending, work to negotiate a favorable plea deal with the state prosecutor on your behalf, and represent you in court at all legal proceedings and sentencing hearings.
Without a DUI lawyer, you risk a harsher sentence than necessary or even a wrongful conviction. The sooner you have a lawyer handling your case, the greater your chance of keeping your license and avoiding a conviction. Right after your arrest, reach out to a trusted legal team that defends DUI charges.