Do I Need an Attorney to Defend a DUI?
Do I need a lawyer and how much does it cost?
I should make it clear from the outset of this blog that it is my advice that anyone arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles or Orange County needs a Lawyer experienced in defending DUI cases. It is refreshing when prospective clients call me to discuss what I can do for them with the mindset that they know that they need an attorney and are seeking the most qualified.
However, a significant portion of prospective clients ask me whether they need an attorney. The general idea is that they are guilty and that there are "standard" penalties for a DUI and that there is little that an attorney can do. This is simply not true. An experienced DUI Attorney can usually make a difference either by negotiating a dismissal, reduction in charges or by mitigating and reducing penalties.
The days when everyone charged with a DUI got the same if they pled guilty on the first court date are long gone. Penalties for drunk driving charges in California are increased every year and there are many factors the Court looks at in considering increased penalties including high speed, high blood or breath alcohol levels, bad driving, refusal to cooperate with the police, accidents, driving without a valid license, bad driving record and age of the defendant. Even on a first time DUI the maximum penalty is six months in County Jail and the Courts willingness to consider some jail time is becoming increasingly common. More importantly, although you may believe you are guilty and you are willing to accept responsibility, you do not want to plead guilty until you know what is going to happen to you or until your case has been looked at for potential legal or scientific defenses that only an experienced Dui Lawyer is aware of and able to present effectively.
If I have a medical problem, I go to a doctor. If I have a mechanical problem with my car I see a qualified mechanic. If I have a plumbing problem in my house, I call a plumber. These professional services cost money, but it is money necessarily and well spent. The alternative is to try and fix the problem myself and that normally means aggravating the problem and the resulting stress and higher costs of undoing mistakes. It is the same with DUI charges. It is not a good idea to try to represent yourself and the Judge will tell you this if you go to Court unrepresented. The Prosecutor is not your attorney and it is not his or her job to advise you or help you. Let an experienced DUI Attorney represent you. This will alleviate your anxiety and maximize your chances of a favorable outcome.
Cost is a factor for everyone, particularly in the present economic climate. It is very confusing to the public that DUI defense Attorneys in Los Angeles and Orange County charge fees that vary from under one thousand dollars to over ten thousand dollars. Although attorneys generally charge in accordance with what they think they are worth and what they think they can get, you must be very careful as some lawyers significantly overcharge their clients, and some lawyers do not charge enough for them to be motivated to do a good job and go the extra mile. Be careful to understand what the DUI Law Firms retainer agreement includes and does not include. You should hire the best DUI Attorney that you can afford after balancing your priorities.
Gold & Witham is a DUI Law Firm concentrating exclusively on defending DUI cases. Lawyers, Jeffrey Gold and Nigel Witham handle all cases personally and do not pass your file to a junior associate like other big firms. Call Gold & Witham for a free consultation.