If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), you may be wondering whether you need an attorney. Maybe you are certain of your innocence, and you are confident in your ability to represent yourself in court. Maybe you are certain you are guilty and don’t see much point in paying someone to represent you. Or, if you are like most people, you are somewhere in the middle, and you have questions about the costs and benefits involved.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Decide Not to Hire a DUI Lawyer
While these are all common thoughts and questions, the simple fact of the matter is that defending against a DUI charge is a serious matter that requires experienced legal representation. You have too much at stake not to seek legal representation, and there are too many mistakes you can easily make if you try to handle your case on your own. Regardless of whether you believe you are innocent, you believe you are guilty, or you have no idea, an experienced attorney will be able to present an effective defense on your behalf, and you cannot afford to take unnecessary chances with your future on the line.
With this in mind, if you are on the fence about hiring a DUI lawyer, here are five questions you should ask yourself to help you decide:
Question #1: Do You Know What You Need to Do?
First, do you know what you need to do in order to defend yourself? Do you know the next step in your DUI case, and do you know how to make sure you do not waive your legal rights? Following a DUI arrest, there are several steps you should try to take as soon as possible, and you need to make sure you know how to protect yourself as your case moves forward.
For example, one aspect of South Carolina DUI cases, of which many people are unaware of is that there are two separate legal proceedings involved. If your license was suspended at the time of your arrest, it would stay suspended unless you request an Administrative Law Hearing within 30 days. You can also request a Temporary Alcohol License (TAL) while your request is pending; but, if you do not represent yourself successfully at your hearing, then your driving privileges will not be restored (and you will be out the $300 in filing fees that you already paid).
Your criminal trial is entirely separate from this administrative procedure, and it is far more complicated. There are more steps along the way, there are more ways than you can get tripped up, and the consequences of failing to represent yourself effectively are far more severe.
Question #2: Do You Know What Not to Do?
When facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, in addition to knowing what you need to do, you also need to know what not to do. With a DUI conviction on the line, mistakes can be incredibly costly, and in many cases, there is simply no way to recover once a mistake has been made.
Some of these are mistakes you can absolutely avoid on your own. For example, you do not want to get arrested for DUI again, and this is something that is completely and exclusively within your control. However, many of the other types of mistakes you need to avoid are far more nuanced, and it will be strongly in your best interests to rely on the advice and representation of an experienced DUI defense attorney.
Question #3: Do You Know What to Expect During Your Case?
Unfortunately, some people have the misconception that a DUI is a “minor” charge. This is due in part to the fact that a DUI is most people’s first introduction to the criminal justice system. However, in South Carolina, all DUIs carry the potential for fines and jail time, and a DUI conviction will go on your criminal record just like a conviction for any other crime.
With this in mind, you need to give yourself every opportunity to avoid a conviction, and this means that you need to know what to expect at every stage of your case. From negotiating with the prosecutor’s office to filing motions to suppress evidence, there are numerous steps an experienced attorney will be able to take on your behalf in order to achieve as favorable of a result as possible.
Question #4: Do You Know What is at Stake in Your Case?
We already mentioned that all DUI charges carry fines and jail time, but do you know specifically what is at stake in your case? In addition to criminal penalties (and loss of your driving privileges), a DUI conviction can have various other consequences as well. Regardless of the facts at hand, the outcome of your case is not predetermined, and you owe it to yourself to do everything possible to make sure you do not unnecessarily suffer life-altering consequences.
Question #5: Do You Know What Defenses You Can Assert?
Finally, before you make any assumptions about what might or might not happen in your DUI case, you need to make sure you have a clear understanding of the defenses that apply, given the circumstances of your case. The facts surrounding your arrest are extremely important, and there are many other factors that need to be thoroughly considered as well. Knowing if, how, and when you can assert defenses in a South Carolina DUI case requires in-depth knowledge of the law, and without this knowledge, you are going to be at a distinct disadvantage.
Discuss Your DUI Case with North Charleston DUI Attorney Rad Deaton for Free
Rad Deaton is a North Charleston DUI attorney who has more than 15 years of experience representing clients in DUI cases. If you have been arrested and would like to discuss your case with Mr. Deaton in confidence, call 843-225-5723, or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation.