A DUI can seem like a simple thing, especially if you feel that you have been arrested without actually breaking the legal blood alcohol limit, but that is not always the case. It is very easy to make a mistake and put yourself in more trouble if you do not understand how your state’s DUI laws work. So, do you need an attorney for a DUI charge?
Making a Plea
Once you are arrested or picked up for driving under the influence, you get to make a plea at the hearing before any major action takes place. There are two options here, and they will influence the rest of the case and how it progresses.
If you plead guilty, you are basically admitting to the charge in return for a reduced sentence. This can be done in the form of a plea bargain, which involves negotiating for your sentence to be counted as something lesser (like reckless driving) in return for you actually being convicted for it.
This is something that you should only do with a proper criminal attorney’s counsel because it is usually seen as a last-ditch option for people who know that they can’t escape some form of a conviction. This does not make it any less effective, but it really has to be something you are sure you want.
You will still be convicted if you do this, and you will still get it marked down in your legal records, but it is a good way to lessen the blow of whatever punishments you are given. For example, you might only end up with a fine rather than jail time or having to attend alcohol tests and recovery sessions.
Fighting the Charge
If you decide to request a trial before a judge or a jury trial, then you are saying that you want to fight the DUI charge. This is most common with people who know that they are not at fault or that their charges are not fair under the circumstances that they were arrested in.
Once again, you should talk with a lawyer before you make any steps towards this. There is not always a way to go back and plead guilty or plea bargain once you are on this route, and even if you can, it might be taken less seriously or dismissed entirely by the judge responsible for your case.
Whether you choose a jury trial or a trial before a judge also depends on the situation, so talk with your lawyer. There will be times where one is more useful than the other, but also cases where there is not one clear option: you will need to decide based on the current risk involved and how much evidence might be stacked against you.
Using Your Lawyer
A criminal lawyer is vital for fighting the charge since you need somebody who understands the state’s laws on this kind of thing. Being arrested for a DUI does not immediately mean that you are guilty, and you have a chance to put together a defense that can prevent or lessen your punishment.
In this instance, listen to your lawyer. Help them come up with a plan for dealing with the charges, ideally one that uses evidence about your driving if possible. If none is available, there are still ways to fight the charge, but your lawyer will have to explain them since they really depend on the situation.
If you have drunk-driven your vehicle through the property with witnesses around, then you probably are not getting away without punishment. However, fighting your case can at least lessen this punishment down from something severe, such as a year in jail or a $2,000 fine.
When fighting a DUI, it is important that your lawyer has as much input as possible since they are here to guide you through the criminal case. You might not be able to get off completely free of consequences, but they can help you avoid things like vehicle impoundment, house arrest, and license suspension.
Even if you can’t get away from the case without a mark in your records, you should work to reduce that mark however you can. If pleading guilty with a plea bargain does that better than fighting it, then many people will take that option – it is all about getting help from your lawyer to figure out what the best option will be in each individual case.