1-Should you plead guilty?
This is a a common question – whether you should plead guilty or not guilty to the DUI charges. To put it simply, 99% of the time you should plead not guilty, unless your lawyer tells you otherwise. Even if the weight of evidence is against you, you have a right to challenge much more than whether you were drinking or not. There could have been mistakes made – or laws broken – by the arresting officer. Your rights could have been abused. Make this decision with your lawyer.
2-What should you say?
Many get into trouble by ignoring “the right to remain silent” part the officer reads to you during the arrest. While this may be after the fact, the less you say the better. When you are arrested, give any identifying information the officer asks for, and do a breath test, but beyond that you should do nothing until you hire representation. The only other questions you should answer come from your DUI lawyer.
3-How damning are BAC tests?
No alcohol test is perfect. The breathalyzer has a history of being wrong, though it is admissible in court and is usually correct. While the test is required by law in all 50 states, it is subject to human error. There is no difference in whether you are, for example, a 100 lb woman or 300 lb man, whether you ate or not, etc. Blood tests are much more damning, as they are the most accurate test of alcohol content.
4-Who can represent you?
You need a professional DUI lawyer, not a court appointed lawyer. You may consider defending yourself: just plead guilty, accept the charges, and be done with it. The problem here is you are admitting full guilt and the maximum charges; the prosecution rarely offers deals in DUI cases. The best chance you have is to hire a professional, someone who specializes in DUI law. If you get a court appointed lawyer, he/she will lack the time and experience to effectively help. Representing yourself is even worse, even if you have some legal experience.
5-How much will it cost?
An effective DUI defense does not come freely, but look at how much you stand to pay in fines, how long you can spend in jail, how long your probation will be, and how long you won’t be able to drive. Typically, DUI lawyer fees run into the thousands, but you need not spend a fortune, and you do have options.
6-How will the officer, evidence, and charges be challenged?
Your DUI lawyer will have his or her own strategies, but many of them were pointed out earlier. This includes: the validity of the breath tests; the actions of the arresting officer; any witnesses if there was an accident; and potentially some experts who can testify on specific points. The officer, for example, may have broken your rights, such as by hitting you.
A DUI charge is not an open and shut case; you have rights, so it’s time to present a defense.