How do I know if I can defend myself in a DUI case? 13 Answers as of August 11, 2011

I was recently charged with a DUI and I do not feel that I was fairly accused. Would I be facing harsher punishments if I try to defend myself in this case? What can I do to lessen the consequences?

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A.L.A. Law Group, LLP
A.L.A. Law Group, LLP | Lauren M. Mayfield
There is a something called a standard first offer in most counties meaning your DUI offer will be the standard offer unless you can get lesser charges. It is not likely that you will get a harsher sentence for fighting it because the offer usually stays the same up to trial, however it is very unlikely that you will get a lesser sentence without an attorney. In most counties it is very hard to reduce the charges on a DUI to something like a wet reckless or a dry reckless. Most attorneys will go through the police report and try to find a problem with the facts of the report or additional discovery, such as the calibration of the machine, and it is only if you find something from the facts that the cops did or failed to do under the law that you can get a reduced charge.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/11/2011
The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman
The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman | Gabriel Dorman
If you are not an attorney you really should not attempt to defend yourself in criminal court. As a matter of fact, even if you are a lawyer, you should not attempt to represent yourself. If you truly want to lessen the consequences then you should hire an experienced DUI attorney to represent you. I hope this answer was helpful. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/10/2011
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller | Thomas Mueller
You would probably not be punished more severly, but it would be an enormous hassleto actually go to a jury trial and the D.A. would take advantage of you. You should consult with a lawyer to learn all the ramifications of self representation.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/10/2011
Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
No, you will not face harsher punishment but you will not have the benefit of legal knowledge to back you. Attorneys have the resources and know the tricks of the trade when fighting these types of charges. Additionally, you'll have to appear at every single court date. If you hire an attorney, you never need to appear.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/10/2011
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
You need to plead not guilty, see the discovery (the police report and test results), and speak to an attorney about the details of your case. You will not be penalized for going through this process. Sometimes the DA will say that an offer is only good the day is it made - this is seldom the case but you need to speak to an attorney to make sure you are making a sound and informed decision. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/10/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    The only way you can lessen the consequences is to hire a good DUI lawyer. Representing yourself pretty much guarantees that you WILL get a DUI and lose your DMV hearing (if you even know to request one!).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Attorney at Law
    Attorney at Law | Michael J. Kennedy
    A person who defends himself has a fool for a client. If you needed brain surgery, would you buy a scalpel and start cutting on your own cranium??? DUI is more complicated than most murder cases and needs to be aggressively and effectively fought by someone skilled and experienced in the field. They can be won and they can be lost; they will surely lose if (a) you plead guilty, or (b) you try to defend yourself, or (c) you hire a jail-mailer who promises much but delivers nothing but a guilty plea.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Law Offices of Aaron T. Hicks
    Law Offices of Aaron T. Hicks | Aaron Hicks
    Everyone has the right to defend him or herself against criminal charges, however I would strongly advise against it. If you needed to have your appendix taken out, would you perform surgery on yourself? A lawyer will be able to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of your case that you would not be able to evaluate yourself. If a lawyer finds something favorable in your case, they may be able to file motions to try and get your case dismissed. If a DA has a weak case, they are not going to tell you. Google DUI attorneys in your area and go in for a few free consultations. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    To Whom It May Concern: It is unlikely that it would be a good idea for you to represent yourself. To some extent, it depends upon the facts and circumstances of your case. The possible consequences do not change depending upon who represents you, though the likelihood of a more favorable outcome definitely does! What can you do to "lessen the consequences"? Hire an experienced, competent, intelligent, local lawyer who appears in Court for you personally and who has a lot of DUI case experience.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    I would not recommend representing yourself in a case. First, it is generally not a good idea for anyone to represent themselves. It is not even advisable for an Attorney to represent himself/herself in a case. Secondly, the Court procedures and DUI defense are both intricate processes. Hiring an experienced DUI attorney, trained in forensic toxicology and how to handle DUI cases is the best advice in an attempt to lessen the consequences. Additionally, in order to even give general advice, it would be better to know more about your case (ie. why you were pulled over, etc.) What you spend on an Attorney could save a lot of heartache down the road.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    You are always entitled to represent yourself in court. Whether you should is up to you. The common wisdom is that an attorney will be able to do a better job and get a better outcome. Prosecutors dont like dealing with ProPers, unless you are simply pleading guilty, not fighting the case. What can you do? When arrested or charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can any evidence obtained in a test, search or confession be used against you, and can you be convicted, and what can you do? Raise all possible defenses with whatever admissible and credible witnesses, evidence, facts and sympathies are available for legal arguments, for evidence suppression or other motions, or at trial. You can hire an attorney, unless you know how to effectively represent yourself in court against a professional prosecutor intending to convict. The attorney will try to get a dismissal, diversion, reduction, or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate. If serious about hiring counsel to help in this, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me. Ill be happy to help use whatever defenses there may be. Keep in mind a little free advice: When arrested for DUI, whether alcohol or drugs, then upon release from jail or booking the defendant is given documents that include a notice that you have only ten days to file a request with DMV for a hearing on an appeal of an automatic one-year suspension of your license imposed by DMV. That is separate and runs consecutively with any suspension that may be imposed by the court. Contact DMV and do so, timely, then appear at your scheduled DMV appeal hearing and present any supporting evidence and testimony. If you don't know how to do these things, then hire an attorney that does.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Law Offices of James A Bates
    Law Offices of James A Bates | James A Bates
    Anyone who tries to represent himself is making a huge mistake. You will have to follow the legal rules of evidence, with no help from the judge. You will be cross-examined by a seasoned lawyer who will take advantage of your inexperience.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
    You cannot defend yourself in a DUI case if you intend to fight the charges. You will be up against a prosecuting attorney who knows the law and will do all he or she can to make sure you are convicted. We tell people it is like deciding to do surgery on yourself. You would not likely be successful. You should immediately meet with an experienced DUI defense law firm to help you. If you cannot afford a lawyer the law firm can explain to you the next step.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/9/2011
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