Frankly, a $2000 lawyer is cheap. There are certainly good public defenders working in our country, but many are burdened with huge caseloads that don't allow them the time to dedicate to each individual case like those cases deserve. If you are eligible, consider consulting with a PD and make your own judgment on the quality of the potential representation. Then if you aren't satisfied, consider going to the private attorney. Remember that there are almost always defenses available in a DUI case when the right lawyer is defending your case.
Keep in mind that the PD will only handle the criminal case and will not handle the civil aspects of preventing license suspension or getting you modified driving privileges. When you consider the hidden costs of a DUI like higher insurance, etc, the cost of a private attorney makes sense. Make sure you find someone that is a member of NCDD as they will be dedicated to DUI Defense,
Dui is a highly specialized area of the law,which requires a thorough knowledge of the science,case law,and the local courts.Having said that there are a lot of good Public Defenders but,like general practice criminal defense lawyers,Public Defenders handle all types of criminal cases.You are probably better served by a Lawyer whose primary practice (over 50%)is DUI Defense.Please go to www.ncdd.com -link to find a Lawyer to find a DUI Attorney near you.
$2000 for a lawyer is cheap. Most attorneys who specialize in DWI/DUI cases cost more -- and they are very much worth it. If there is any way of combatting the case, the specialist will find it. He will also be well-versed in the collateral consequences and will be able to help you with those in much greater detail than most public defenders or non-specialists.
Also, if you can afford a $2000 lawyer, you may not be eligible for a public defender, which typically represents only those who are unable to afford any lawyer. Many public defenders have considerable experience in the criminal part of the DWI cases, but few provide the sort of complex experience as a specialist.
None of us out here can tell whether it is "worth it" for you to pay a lawyer, especially if you can get a public defender. Only you know that. But you definitely need a lawyer. There are just too many consequences to go it alone. Do you want to simply take a plea and deal with the many many consequences, both direct and collateral? (Collateral consequences include, among other things, increased insurance rates, decreased ability to obtain financial aid, travel restrictions--for instance, Canada won't let you visit with a DWI. The list grows by the month.) Do you want the most help to try to find holes in the prosecution's case and see if there is any way at all to avoid conviction on this? You and you alone know what this is worth to you.
DISCLAIMER: This answer to a short question is provided solely for general informational purposes and based on general legal principles and court practice. The laws and practices may differ where you are. This answer does NOT constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or constitute attorney advertising.