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Do You Need a Drunk Driving Attorney If You Get a DUI?

— November 7, 2019

Having an attorney should help to guide you through the entire process and avoid you landing into other issues with the law.

DUI [driving under the influence] can be a serious felony, especially if it’s a repeated offense. In all likelihood, getting a DUI conviction can land you in problems such as a jail term or even suspension of your driver’s license.

Assuming you’re charged with a DUI felony, does it matter whether you hire a DUI lawyer? Well, let’s see about that.

When You Don’t Need a Lawyer

Back then, defendants worked their way around DUI charges by pleading to a lesser charge. By the time they were finished, you simply needed to pay a fine, and you’re done.

But that came to an abrupt end when 50 states passed the drunk driving per se law, making it mandatory for intoxicated drivers to get charged with DUI. Please see the 2021 update here.

The passing of this law meant that if the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was greater than the legal limit of 0.08%, you were guilty of DUI. Now, it does not matter whether you’re staggering or slurring in your speech, your BAC level alone is enough evidence needed to convict you. 

Therefore, a key aspect of determining whether to hire a DUI attorney and whether it will do you any good is knowing your BAC level. If you recorded alcohol content of above 0.08, there’s a high chance that you’ll get a conviction.

Besides BAC level, if the prosecution has strong evidence of impairment such as erratic driving, you’re bound to get convicted, too.

A second case where you probably might not need an attorney is it’s your first DUI offense, and there were no injuries.

Nevertheless, even if your charge is the above general description, there’re instances where attorneys are crucial. This is particularly true if you doubt the prospects of your case.

Let’s look at instances where you need legal assistance.

Person pouring pink wine into wine glass; image by Kevin Kelly, via
Person pouring pink wine into wine glass; image by Kevin Kelly, via

When you Need Legal Assistance

If it’s not a slam-dunk case for the prosecution, you might decide to take a plea bargain.

A plea bargain is when you agree to plead guilty for a lesser charge rather than go through the entire trial process.

Some of the popular reasons that may cast doubt to the justification of your arrest include:

  • Questionable sobriety test
  • Accuracy of BAC
  • BAC below the 0.08% legal limit
  • Procedural problems with your arrest

While some of the pleas can be accomplished without needing legal assistance, experienced DUI attorneys know how to negotiate with the prosecution.

Additionally, local DUI attorneys have a pretty clear understanding of how the prosecution will present their case and what arguments will win a reduced charge.

Some states, such as California, usually reduce the charges to something like wet reckless. Wet reckless [a nickname for reckless driving] carries a lighter sentence than DUI and has no jail time.

As we mentioned earlier, you can win a plea bargain on your own, especially if the odds are in your favor. However, if the case is less clear and no strong acts support your case, an attorney might have a better option at securing a plea bargain.

Aggravating Circumstances

If your case is more than a simple DUI misdemeanor, having an attorney is needed more than ever.

Regardless of whether it’s your first brush with the law, certain circumstances can turn DUI into a felony.

Such instances include:

  • DUI with a child in a car
  • Very high BAC
  • Causing injuries or death

These and other charges can result in jail time. However, an experienced DUI attorney has a better chance to reduce your plea or even the jail time as you would on your own.

Going to Trial

The trial process is quite involved. The court procedures are complicated, and the judges expect you to follow them.

Having an attorney should help to guide you through the entire process and avoid you landing into other issues with the law.

Getting Legal Advice

Even if you’re taking the case your own, it would greatly benefit if you first seek the advice of a DUI attorney before making any decisions.

However, unlike most consultations, expect to pay for the legal services.

Do I Need an Attorney for DUI?

Sure, hiring a DUI attorney costs money, but when you compare the consequences of a DUI conviction, it’s a great idea that you consult with professional attorneys via 

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