DUI Lawyer Needed?
March 28, 2010 9:10 PM   Subscribe

How important is it to get a DUI lawyer for a first possible DUI?

What do they do for you? How much do they cost? I haven't got the blood test back to know if I really need it, but I would like any helpful information. I'm in Colorado. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Really important.

Get a lawyer ASAP. It ain't easy to beat a DUI, anywhere. It ain't even easy not to get beat pretty bad yourself.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:16 PM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I suggest that when in legal jeopardy it is far better to regret having "wasted" some money on a lawyer after the fact than to regret not having wasted some money on a lawyer after the fact while sitting in jail.

I cannot imagine a situation where it makes sense not to get a lawyer when accused of a DUI.

Also, don't drink and drive.
posted by Justinian at 9:26 PM on March 28, 2010

Lawyer up if you can afford it. Whatever you do, don't miss the court date, lawyer or not, that'll just add a bench warrant onto your problems.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 9:29 PM on March 28, 2010

get a lawyer. this could be on your record for a long time.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 9:39 PM on March 28, 2010

This is not a traffic ticket.

(Minor traffic tickets are the only time you go to court without a lawyer. No exceptions.)

For what it's worth - about 6 years ago in Portland Oregon, a DUI attorney got a friend off for about $5k total (that included lawyer fees, fines, impound fees, etc - everything). Having a DUI conviction on your record can be quite a pain in the ass, job-wise, but it all depends on what you do or want to do. Nonetheless, if you balk at the expense, stop and think of it as an investment against having a worse record and still paying that money (to insurance companies). You'll pay either way, so do it right.
posted by terpia at 9:53 PM on March 28, 2010

What do they do for you?

They advise you of your rights. More importantly, they can help you to navigate the means and procedures that are in place to assert those rights. In simple terms: You are more likely to get a better result if you have a lawyer. For lots of reasons—because the lawyer knows what to do, how to do it, and when (procedurally); because the lawyer may be familiar with the particular prosecutor and judge, and know how to best persuade each; because sometimes prosecutors and judges see that you've hired a lawyer and think, "Well, he's already paid $X and is at least taking this seriously," which sets you apart favorably from other defendants on the docket. Et cetera.

Some defendants also find it helpful, psychologically. Standing in court as a defendant can be scary. A writer described a criminal courtroom in the moment when a defendant is identified as 'taking on a second center of gravity'—one moment the room is centered on the judge, and then suddenly there's this second focus: you. Having a lawyer beside you means that you're not standing alone. In a sense, it's analogous to the concept of unconditional love: He's not there to judge you, but to advocate for you no matter what. Having a lawyer means that as you are being processed through the criminal justice system, you have one person in that system who is on your side. Without one, you don't.

How much do they cost?

You may be able to get a cheap (or free) consultation from a local referral service. Google for your nearest bar association. And good luck.
posted by cribcage at 10:00 PM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Writing to concur. Always go to court with a lawyer. Always.
posted by clarknova at 10:33 PM on March 28, 2010

As a court-appointed lawyer in Oregon, I would recommend you getting legal counsel for this. If you think that the first time around might be OK for you to navigate, or if Colorado has some sort of alternative program for first-time offenders, at the very least you should pay for a one-hour consultation with a lawyer who can look over your case and give you some suggestions.

In Oregon, first-time DUII offenders may participate in a one-year diversion program. It has most of the negatives of a DUII conviction, including alcohol treatment, losing your driving privileges for a specific duration of time, etc, but it has two important features that make it VERY attractive: 1) You don't get any jail time or work crew, if you successfully complete the DUII diversion. 2) If you complete the program, the offense is removed from your record, like it never happened. But I have no idea what's available in Colorado, nor am I advising you on what you should do.

Anyway, if you have a consultation with a lawyer, the lawyer will be able to look at the police report, figure out what your BAC was, whether cops followed all the proper procedures, and give you some general advice on whether you should fight to charges in trial, or whether you should cut a deal, or whether there's a first-time diversion program if you don't have a really strong case. This isn't legal advice, and that's why you need to go talk to a lawyer.
posted by Happydaz at 11:03 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Definitely you want a lawyer. If anything, your first DUI charge is the most important one to get a lawyer for, since it means the potential difference between having a criminal record or not, as opposed to how long a record you have.

Also really important is to get a defence lawyer who's experienced and skillful in DUI cases. Ask any lawyers you can who they would use for a criminal defence. Then, ask those defence lawyers who they would use if they got charged with a DUI. Then choose whomever of the DUI defenders you can afford. (Those initial referral questions/requests shouldn't cost you anything.)
posted by birdsquared at 11:23 PM on March 28, 2010

How important is it to get a DUI lawyer for a first possible DUI?

posted by delmoi at 1:51 AM on March 29, 2010

Yes, get a lawyer. If you can't afford one, ask the court to appoint one to you.

A DUI could land you in jail, cost a lot of money, stay on your record and affect your punishment in the event that you do it again. (Please don't do it again.)
posted by motsque at 5:35 AM on March 29, 2010

Happydaz is right on the money. A lawyer can also get the reason for the initial pull over stricken from the records. This helps with future insurance rates as insurance companies see arrest records and things like "improper lane usage, " erratic driving" etc. as code for drunk driving.
posted by Max Power at 5:50 AM on March 29, 2010

Even from a strictly financial standpoint, a decent lawyer should save you more money than they cost. DUIs can be fantastically expensive, both in the court costs, fines, insurance premium increases etc. A good lawyer is the only way to protect yourself from these.
posted by electroboy at 6:30 AM on March 29, 2010

What do they do for you?

Tell you not to post about the incident on the internet. IANAL, but the wording of your post makes me think you don't know you weren't drunk, which means you think it's possible you were, which is kinda sorta like admitting your guilt. Not something I'd want tied to my name.

You might want the mods to make this anonymous.
posted by paanta at 6:34 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think the question anonymous is asking is "how important is it to get a DUI lawyer" not "how important is it to get a lawyer."

A lot of lawyers who advertise themselves as "DUI lawyers" are huge cheeseballs who may or may not be good attorneys. A good criminal defense attorney --- one recommended by someone you trust --- is probably a safer bet.

Many DUI cases are slam dunks for the prosecution, and it doesn't make sense in such cases to hire an attorney who will charge you $7500, when you could find a less experienced lawyer for $750 to enter a plea. The problem is knowing when your case is a slam dunk for the prosecution, and when it isn't. Another factor is how important it is to you to fight the case aggressively. For many clients, their priority is to get the case over with and they don't want to fight the case aggressively. For such clients, a lower-priced attorney makes sense.
posted by jayder at 12:16 PM on March 29, 2010

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