Going to court for a DUI can be extremely daunting. Going to court for a DUI without a lawyer can lead to substantially decreased overall freedoms, including the loss of your ability to drive and a higher risk of jail time. In addition, you may find yourself facing a higher fine than you would if you worked with an attorney.
Having a lawyer on your side does not guarantee that you will face fewer consequences for a DUI. However, working with a lawyer can help you protect your freedoms and make sure your rights are taken into account as the court hears your case.
What Happens If You Go to Court Without a Lawyer?
When you have a lawyer on your side during a DUI case, that lawyer will serve as your advocate, both to the court and in dealing with the DMV. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer on your own, the court will assign a public defender to deal with your claim. Public defenders can serve many of the same purposes as a private DUI lawyer, but might not offer as many advantages.
If you work with a public defender, instead of a private DUI lawyer, you can expect several things.
You May Have Aappear at Each Court Appearance Yourself.
In some cases, a private DUI lawyer can appear in court on your behalf, especially for routine proceedings. When you work with a public defender, on the other hand, you may find yourself required to show up for those court appearances personally. That can mean missing time at work and further disruption in your personal life as you handle your case.
You Nay End Up Having to Pay Heavier Penalties.
A private DUI attorney may advocate harder on your behalf than a public defender. Public defenders often have a high volume of cases at any given time. While they will do their best for their clients, they may not have the time and energy to spend on each individual case.
Public defenders are often overworked, and in some cases may not even have the chance to do the research or put in the effort necessary to maximize results for their clients. As a result, you may not get the outcomes you both expect and need in your case.
If you do face higher penalties, you may find yourself dealing with:
Longer License Loss.
When you are convicted of a DUI, you may lose your license for a period of time, often several months or years, depending on how many previous convictions you may have and your BAC at the time of the incident. In some cases, you may have the right to apply for a provisional license that will allow you to drive on a limited basis: with a breathalyzer in your car, during work hours, or to transport a child when needed, for example.
A private DUI attorney can help fight to minimize the loss of your license and increase the odds that you will get a provisional license for the duration of your license suspension.
Sometimes, a DUI can come with jail time. Time in jail disrupts your personal freedom. You cannot work while in jail, which means you may have decreased income. Not only that, often, jail time can cause you to lose your job altogether, which means you may have to apply for a new job when you get out – and it can be more difficult to get hired with a DUI on your record. A private DUI attorney can help fight to minimize those consequences as much as possible.
DUI often carries fines as well as jail time and other penalties. Going to court without a DUI lawyer may leave you facing higher overall penalties for a conviction, including higher fines. Those fines can cut into the money you might prefer to spend on other things or make it difficult for you to manage your finances while handling those fines.
You May Not Get the Specialized Knowledge You Really Need to Manage DUI Charges.
Attorneys who specialize in handling DUI cases have specialized DUI knowledge that can help you navigate those charges. They know the law inside and out, often in ways that public defenders do not. A lawyer with detailed knowledge of local DUI laws and regulations can help you more effectively navigate those charges and decrease the penalties that may go along with a conviction.
Can You Represent Yourself in Court for DUI Charges?
Legally, you have the right to represent yourself in court when facing DUI charges. You do not have to accept the public defender assigned to your case. If you do not work well with the public defender or do not trust their efforts, you have the option to either bring in a private attorney on your own or to represent yourself in court. The choice of representation is always yours.
Representing yourself at a DUI trial, however, is rarely a good idea. Legal expertise comes with extensive study of both the law and trial skills, and the average citizen does not have those skills. You may not know the rules of interacting with the court, from how to present yourself to the judge to what steps you need to take in interviewing a witness or presenting evidence.
Furthermore, representing yourself may cause the judge to take you less seriously. Having an experienced DUI attorney on your side can make a huge difference as you fight to protect your personal freedoms and minimize the consequences of a DUI as much as possible.
Contact a DUI Lawyer As Soon As Possible
Having a private DUI lawyer on your side offers the best strategy for minimizing the consequences of a DUI conviction and allowing you to protect your personal freedoms. If you need a Los Angeles DUI attorney to represent you, contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help support you as you manage your case.