Whether you retain an attorney or not to defend in this matter depends upon what your goal is.
If your goal is to simply accept whatever punishment is given to you, have a DUI on your record for years to come and most likely have your driving privilege suspended, then dont hire an attorney and save the money and put it toward the fine with the understanding that you can have your punishment enhanced (which includes jail, fines, fees, and length/cost of alcohol programs) pursuant to Vehicle Code section 23578 due to your BAC being higher than 0.15%.
However, if your goal is to have a attorney review all of the evidence and make every effort to beat the charge or get it reduced to a lesser charge or at the very least ensure that you will get the least possible consequences (no jail, minimum fines, shortest alcohol program, and keep your driving privilege intact), then you should spend the money to retain a qualified criminal defense attorney.
The fines/fees/penalty assessments can range from around $1400 to $6000.
The jail time can from 0 days county jail to 6 months county jail, assuming you have no prior DUI's.
Regarding deportation, while there is always a risk of deportation with most crimes committed by a non-citizen, it is very unlikely that this DUI will get you deported without more aggravating factors.
"I'm thinking of just pleading guilty and not getting a lawyer..."
People say this all the time, and while it is absolutely your right to handle the case own your own, I think it is almost always a mistake.
A skilled DUI defense attorney can get the charges reduced, dismissed, or they can defend you at trial.
If you handle it on your own, you can be assured that you won't get a good deal from the DA. With an experienced attorney, you have the peace of mind of knowing that you're going to get a great deal. That's what you pay them for.
If you have questions and would like to discuss this free of charge, feel free to call my office.
San Francisco, CA 94107
I would highly recommend at least talking to an attorney to determine if a guilty plea is the correct option. It appears that you were in an accident as well. There are important factors that a skilled DUI attorney would look for to determine if a guilty plea is the correct decision. Most of the time a signle DUI will not lead to deportation as it is not a crime of moral turipitude. The fees are standard for most DUIs and will come to about $2,000. Additionally since this occurred in LA you would be subject to the new law and have to install an interlock ignition device on your vehile. Many times an attorney will be able to assist in getting reductions in Los Angeles.
While it may seem the easiest route is just to plead guilty, please understand that the consequences of your action will haunt you for years. What immediately jumps out at me is your statement that your "BAC was quite high (.16.)" Although well over the legal limit, .16 is very close to the .15 level, over which you are facing even harsher penalties. The machines that measure one's BAC are notoriously innacurate, and a good, experienced DUI attorney will know how to effectively attack the scores. Attacking the scores is really more important than getting the fines reduced for your long-term wellbeing, and a good attorney can evaluate your case and advise you of possible defenses.
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