A charge of driving under the influence (DUI) is devastating because the potential conviction could result in a criminal record that impacts your future. If convicted, background checks show the offense and this can be a turnoff to landlords, employers, insurance companies, and any others that must perform background checks on people that they will be dealing with. Even a first-time offense has its collateral consequences.
How Can a DUI Lawyer Help?
Having an attorney in your corner is very important because they have the education, experience, and knowledge of the courts to effectively advocate for you. Without the necessary advocacy in your corner, the chances of being convicted of the maximum DUI charge can happen. Your criminal defense attorney looks at all elements in the arrest. They ensure that there was probable cause for the traffic stop. If it is determined that there wasn’t probable cause, the validity of the charges can be challenged.
Defense attorneys have also been found to challenge breathalyzer results due to machines having histories of faulty readings. Not reading the defendant their rights at the time of arrest is considered a rights violation and is another element that can be challenged. Certain circumstances can lead to an attorney taking a specific set of actions to secure the best result for their client. In the meantime, rights are protected and a defendant has guidance on what to say and what not to say. After all, Miranda rights say that “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” In other words, a statement that is innocent to a defendant could be seen as self-incrimination by law enforcement.
With an attorney working on the case from the start, defendants don’t have to navigate the legal system on their own. There may also be no need to just sit back and accept the charges when there are circumstances that could lead to a better result. Even when guilty, it doesn’t mean that a person should pay harsher consequences than they deserve.
As for how to get out of a DUI, experienced criminal attorneys know what can constitute a complete dismissal or acquittal. Again, this is why you want to move forward with the fight instead of accepting what the prosecution wants. Even if you think there is no chance of getting out of a DUI, you may be surprised to learn that there is a much better result waiting for you.
How Often do DUI Cases Get Reduced?
In practically every case, the goal of a DUI lawyer is to have the charges dismissed. However, dismissal doesn’t happen as often as charge reduction. How often charges are reduced in DUI cases isn’t quantifiable to a specific percentage. Reductions can happen when your lawyer negotiates with the prosecutor in the case. If a charge is reduced in exchange for a guilty plea, there is no need to go to trial. However, getting the case done and over with by entering a guilty plea may not always be the best route.
It is possible that there are circumstances in the case that could result in dismissal of the charges, so it can be worth it to fight, otherwise, it’s worth fighting for a reduction of charges. There are times when a first-time DUI offense is reduced to another type of traffic offense. This completely avoids the long-term consequences of DUI. This shows that there is a chance.
When Does a DUI Become a Felony?
A DUI case becomes more complicated when the DUI is charged as a felony. A felony of any kind exacerbates the long-term consequences. One of the questions on a job application is, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony.” That’s a difficult box to check if you have because, in many cases, it almost guarantees you won’t be hired no matter how qualified you are.
A DUI becomes a felony when any of the following exists:
• There have been other DUI offenses within the past 10 years
• A minor was in the vehicle at the time of the offense
• Blood alcohol concentration is more than twice the legal limit
These are called aggravating factors. These factors and the rules pertaining to them can vary by state.
What does a DUI lawyer do in these cases?
They fight hard to help their client receive a better result than they would if they faced the maximum charge. Felony DUI can be reduced to a gross misdemeanor at least. It is even possible for a felony to be reduced to a misdemeanor if the circumstances are right.
How Long DUI on Record?
If a DUI conviction occurs, it remains on the record indefinitely. In some states, a DUI can’t be expunged from a criminal record because it is an offense that is enhanced by aggravating factors. If it can be expunged, a state may require that the offense remains on a criminal record for at least two years. To qualify for expungement, the individual has to display that they are no longer a threat and that there is no risk of reoffending. It’s a complicated process that requires the help of an attorney. It must be shown that the offense is causing a hardship like not being able to find work, go back to college, or find a place to live.
For someone living in a state that won’t allow DUI charges to be expunged, the goal should be to not offend again and let time be on your side. There are employers and landlords that will overlook a DUI if it was a single offense not followed by additional offenses.
What do DUI Lawyers Charge?
The exact cost of a DUI defense lawyer can vary by region and by attorney. The complexity of the case can also influence cost. The average cost for a DUI attorney, however, is between $750 to $1,500 for a plea deal. If the case has to go to trial, the cost is going to be more.
So how much do DUI lawyers cost if you go to trial?
Going to trial could result in thousands of dollars more, but you must ask yourself if the impact on your life is worth it. You could lose your current job, have difficulty finding a new job, be unable to find a nice place to rent or go back to school. Insurance rates can also increase to unaffordable rates. If there is a possibility of charge dismissal or acquittal, it may pay to fight the charge.
How to Pick DUI Lawyer
Picking a lawyer is serious business because you need to have a lawyer who will aggressively challenge the individual elements of the DUI charge. Being charged with a DUI isn’t a petty offense, so you need a lawyer who is experienced, receptive, and will make you feel comfortable.
When choosing a lawyer, take advantage of the free consultation. Sometimes, this consultation occurs over the telephone between the defendant and the lawyer. There are also times when the consultation happens between a loved one and the lawyer because the defendant is in jail.
Aside from the consultation, look at online reviews and see what others have experienced. You can also make your own judgment based on the initial interaction. A client and their attorney is a team. The attorney works on your behalf, advises you and complies with the decisions you make based on the information you are given. This person is your partner, which is why the choice of attorney should be a careful one.
All in all, choosing the right attorney can give you peace of mind that you have someone truly working for you. It’s important that you are comfortable and that all questions you have are answered. When the attorney is the right fit, you increase the chance of the best possible result in the case.