People often ask whether it’s helpful, or even necessary to hire a skilled DUI defense attorney. Many people who get arrested for DUI, go to an attorney that’s a family friend. It is important to understand that only attorneys that are specially trained and experienced in specifically defending a DUI case, can properly represent someone charged with DUI.
- Even though DUI is the most common offense, DUI cases are the most complex to understand, and to defend properly. A good DUI attorney has a strong understanding of the science and procedures in a DUI case. There are basically three areas to attack in a dui case: 1) the BAC level at the time of driving v. the time of testing, 2) the reliability of the chemical test results, police procedures, and expert opinions, and 3) the reliability of the testing device, whether it’s a breathalyzer or a chromatograph (blood testing device). A skilled DUI attorney knows how to get certain evidence excluded, or how to use the evidence in favor of their client.
- The stakes are very high in DUI cases, even higher than many other crimes, especially in the long run. A DUI conviction stays on your record for priorability purposes, even if the case is expunged. This means even if your case is dismissed after an expungement, it will still count as a prior if someone gets arrested for DUI again within 10 years. A DUI conviction can cost some people their employment, especially for professional drivers and professionals, who hold a professional license. A DUI will also dramatically effect insurance rates for years to come. Finally, a person faces punishment like thousands in fines, months in an alcohol program, and potentially jail time.
- The legal system is set up to help prosecutors get a DUI conviction. Certain Constitutional safeguards that exist in all criminal cases, don’t exist in DUI cases. For example, you don’t have the right to an attorney when being questioned and investigated for DUI, you are not given a Miranda rights warning after being arrested for DUI, and the police can stop you, for no reason at all, at a checkpoint stop. Furthermore, it is important to know that there are also certain legal presumptions that exist for DUI chemical test results, which may be utilized by the prosecutor at trial. Finally, Constitutional protections do not apply to DMV administrative hearings.
The deck is definitely stacked against anyone charged with a violation of DUI. If a prosecutor knows that your attorney has no business representing someone in a DUI charge, they can walk all over them. However, if someone is represented by a skilled DUI attorney, they have a chance to obtain a positive outcome they wouldn’t have imagined.