I was arrested over the weekend for misdemeanor DUI. It my first problem with the law.... I was pulled over for no having light on..... Is it worth it to pay for an attorney or it will be just another bill... Should I just plead Guilty?
Quite a few people make the mistake of believing that a DUI is simple, and nothing important . Many decide for one reason or another to represent themselves. This right is constitutionally guaranteed. However, it is important to be aware that a DUI, even a first DUI, may be open to challenge based on the facts and it is exceedingly important to fight if you do have a case, since DUI's are priorable (this means that if you have one and get another within 10 years, the penalties are increased. If you get two more they are significantly increased and it may be charged as a felony. After three in ten years, they will be felonies.) Also, even after a first DUI, if you are later driving a car and have alcohol in your system and someone is injured in an accident as a result of your actions, you may be charged with murder. Employers tend to view DUI's very negatively, especially if you have to drive a company vehicle as a part of your job, because it may increase their insurance and liability. A conviction for driving under the influence will also have negative effects on both your driver’s license and your auto insurance. You need to have an attorney from the earliest possible moment in the development of your case, including the DMV hearing, as this may be used as a record to impeach either the investigating officer or you at a subsequent trial if testimony differs at all between the two proceedings.
DUI law is incredibly complex and fact specific. There are two ways that driving under the influence is traditionally charged. The second is the one that is most familiar to many people and is embodied in PC 23152. This charge states that you are guilty of driving under the influence if you were driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 or above. The first is much trickier. The prosecution merely has to prove that you were driving a motor vehicle without “the care and caution of a sober person” because of the alcohol. This charge is important, and it is one of the few areas of law in which the jury may be instructed that they may presume you were guilty if your chemical tests are reported as .08 or above.
You will want to find someone well versed in DUI law, who is familiar with and may spot available defenses, take the mystique from the "expert" witness that the prosecution will have testify against you, who understands how to challenge the chemical test, and who is adept at cross examining the police officer. Police officers testify quite often, especially in DUI trials, so they have quite a bit of experience and training in dealing with a jury.
I must agree with all of my colleagues who have answered in the negative to whether you should represent yourself and just plead guilty. Additionally, because you are fresh off of your arrest, you must immediately contact DMV driver safety within 10 days of your arrest to request an administrative per se (APS) hearing. Failing to request this hearing during that time results in a suspension of your driver's license for a period of 4 months, no questions asked 31 days after your arrest. While a public defender may be able to assist you in the criminal case, they do not represent you in the APS proceeding as it is a civil action and not a criminal hearing. Speak with an experienced and knowledgeable DUI attorney as soon as you can.
No, it is not a good idea to represent yourself as your BAC was at .15. This triggers an enhancement and if properly fought, you can get rid of the enhancement. If other mistakes were made you may be able to get this completely dismissed.
It is always a good idea to at least speak with an attorney regarding your case.
No, Do not plead Guilty without first contacting an attorney. You definitely need a lawyer skilled in the D.U.I. area of criminal defense. Something like this on your record could have adverse consequences that could follow you for the rest of your life. The price of an attorney will seem like nothing to you compared to the regret and unforeseen complications you will experience in the future.
You need an attorney. Even a first time DUI can have serious consequences for the future, including you ability to drive. I was a prosecutor for 16 years handling some of the most serious types of DUI's (DUI related murder cases). I have now been defending DUI charges for years, and can tell you without hesitation that an experienced DUI attorney can spot issues and problems in a case that the untrained eye will miss. Its worth your time to consult with someone.
Was the stop legitimate or can it be challenged with a suppression motion?
Did the police follow proper procedure in their DUI investigation?
Did the officer do the horizontal gaze nystagmus test propoerly (the test where you look at the pen or cop's finger)?
Was the breath testing equipment maintained in compliance with Title 17?
Did the officer follow the proper procedure for the breath test?
Does the officer have a histoy od complaints filed against he or her?
What is the prosecutor's usual plea offer in cases such as yours and do offers sometimes improve?
Chances are you do not know the answers to most if not all these questions. If that is the case, hire an expereinced DUI lawyer. They will know the answers or know how to find out and any could affect your case's outcome. For cases in Van Nuys, I always recommend the attorneys at DS Criminal Law Group. You can find them at www.dslosangelescriminallawyer.com
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