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Should i hire an attorney before or after my DUI arraignment? I'm not sure how beneficial it will be to get an attorney sooner.

Los Angeles, CA |

I was arrested for DUI about a week and a half ago. I don't think the DMV can suspend my license because I blew under a .08. I feel I have a good case because I blew a .072, was very cooperative with the officer, did not have trouble with my gait, balance, parking my car or handing my documents over; also I did not slur my speech. I did well on the field tests, first time DUI and no criminal record. I feel I have a good chance at a case dismissal or at least a wet reckless.

Since I will not be pleading guilty at the arraignment and I'd like to save at least a little bit of money, should I hire an attorney before or after that? I was told by an attorney that negotiations don't usually take place before the arraignment. Would this probably be the case with my case?

Attorney Answers 10

  1. I suspect that many attorneys charge a flat fee and as such it wouldn't make a difference as far as saving money. Besides, it's never a smart idea navigating the criminal justice system alone and if you had an attorney it may also be possible to try an resolve the matter at arraignment.

  2. What court is your hearing in? I generally recommend hiring an attorney to handle these matters. Although negotiations often don't happen before an arraignment, they certainly take place at the arraignment. Plus, more often than not, what the officer lists in the police report (for results of field sobriety tests for example) does not match how the licensee feels they went. I would at least recommend consulting with an attorney or two in more detail about your case as soon as possible. Feel free to call me if you would like to discuss further. There are a lot of variables that can effect DUI proceedings even when the BAC is below a .08.

    Legal disclaimer: This message does not constitute legal advice and is for informational purposes only. This message does not establish an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established once a retainer agreement has been fully executed between you and this firm.

  3. DUI attorneys generally charge a flat fee. So whether you hire him or her now or after court - you save not money. If on the other hand, you want to save time, some if not most courts allow the attorney to appear for you so you don't have to go to court. If the court wants you present your attorney can have the dates when you are available.

    Negotiations most certainly do take place at the arraignment. If I were your attorney for example I would make an effort to get the charges dismissed at arraignment. However, in some courts, there is no DA at the arraignment and in that case - there would be no negotiations.

    The above information does not establish an attorney client relationship nor is it meant to provide legal advice.

  4. As with all criminal cases, I definitely recommend that you hire an attorney to represent you at all stages of your matter. You need an attorney who specializes in criminal defense and is well-acquainted with DUI's to help get you a reduction. Of course you may try to do so by yourself, but your question shows that you are at least cognizant of the fact that doing so may not be the best way to go.

    Hopefully you have already scheduled your DMV hearing, as you must do so within 10 days from the date of arrest. You are right--your license will most likely not be set aside because of your B.A.C. If this is the only chemical test you submitted to, then you are already in good shape.

    Nonetheless, the DMV and court are two different entities. Depending on the courthouse and or the D.A., your case could still proceed as a full blown DUI and not be reduced. The facts seem to be on your side, but your odds will be that much better with an experienced attorney.

  5. You are going to be going through two proceedings; DMV and the court system. DMV controls the issuance and suspension of your CDL while court is where your matter is adjudicated with respect to guilt or innocence. You indicate that you blew a .072 was this the test that was given in the station or the preliminary alcohol test? You only have 10 days to set a DMV hearing-you should do this ASAP.

    My advice is to hire an attorney before going to the arraignment. Attorneys are familiar with the judges and the District Attorneys. For tactical reasons that would be to your advantage an attorney may want to stay in the arraignment court, or they may to want to continue the arraignment. In most circumstances an attorney is not prepared to discuss the case at arraignment as they have not received a copy of the police report. An attorney should always review the police report with their client before negotiating a case. DUI are slightly different as once a DMV hearing is set the attorney can receive all the discovery on the case oftentimes in advance of the arraignment.

    On a DUI most attorneys will charge you a flat fee vs per court appearance. There is no advantage to you attending the arraignment without counsel. If you are planning on hiring an attorney do it before the arraignment.

    Do not hesitate to contact my office should you want to discuss this further, 949-660-1389.

  6. It is unlikely that waiting until after your arraignment will save you any money. Most DUI lawyers have a flat fee based on each clients circumstances and that is not likely to change after the first court appearance. It will in fact make things a little more difficult for your new attorney, because now he will be required to "Substitute In" as your attorney of record. Just make sure you hire an attorney whose sole practice is DUI defense. There are a number of good ones in town, myself included. DUIs are very complicated these days and are no longer a glorified traffic ticket like they used to be. It is in your best interest to hire someone who specializes in DUIs. You wouldn't want a General Practitioner to do Brain Surgery would you? I hope this helps.

  7. If you blew under the legal limit in Los Angeles County I wouldn't hire a lawyer so long as you are 21 or older even though I am a DUI attorney. I would go to the arraignment and see if they are even going to file the case against you. Rest assured, they can still file the under the influence count if they feel you were impaired to such a degree you could no longer operate the motor vehicle with the caution characteristic of a sober person. It has been my experience, with certain exceptions, that they won't file against you. If they do file the case against and you blew a .072 taking a wet reckless is a huge mistake. At that point then call me 949-872-2700 to represent you. You can check my website at

  8. Schedule your DMV APS hearing immediately.  You do not need a lawyer to make this request.  Just call and schedule it.  

    As for the case, if you are truly a .07 it is very likely that you will not get charged.  Therefore you can consider not hiring a lawyer now and waiting to see if in fact you get charged.  If you are charged, just tell the court that you want to postpone your arraignment to have time to hire a lawyer.  This should not be a problem.  If you are charged, you are best advised not negotiate with the DA yourself.  You would be waiving your right against self-incrimination by doing so and you are probably not going to do the best job at defending yourself anyway. For example, a wet reckless conviction would under most circumstances be a horrible result in a .07 BAC case. 

    Good luck to you.  

  9. I'm not sure about the rules in California, but in many jurisdictions, many motions that could be useful are waived if not filed at the time of arraignment. Just something else to consider.

    This response is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please note that the information I provide is for the state of Georgia only and should not be used for any purpose in any other jurisdiction.

  10. It is generally the case with DUI charges that the case will not be negotiated prior to the arraignment. It might save you some money to wait on hiring an attorney, but the sooner you hire an attorney the better off you may be. Hiring a good lawyer soon helps them start gathering your story and can be in a position to possibly negotiate a deal at the arraignment. At a minimum, an attorney would be able to get the discovery and set the next court date that is convenient with their calendar. Since it's a misdemeanor offense, you won't have to be present at the hearings, generally speaking.

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