How should I plead to my first DUI? 42 Answers as of July 12, 2013

I received my first DUI with a high BAC of .17 2 weeks ago. I cannot afford an attorney, how should I plea? I have a clean record otherwise, and I'm very nervous about this whole thing not knowing what will happen to me.

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Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
You should at least schedule a consultation with an experienced certified criminal law specialist in order to understand the process the possible issues. After that you might decide to hire an attorney or not depending on your expectations of what you wish to accomplish versus the possible cost.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/28/2011
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
You should plead not guilty. If you are unable to afford an attorney, and you qualify, the court should appoint an attorney to represent you. Follow the advise of your attorney.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 6/17/2011
Law Office of Thomas A. Medford, Jr., PC
Law Office of Thomas A. Medford, Jr., PC | Thomas A. Medford, Jr.
Based on what you have said I would suggest that you inquire if there is some type of diversion program in your area that could result in the dismissal of the charges if you successfully complete the program. You should also consider asking for the appointment of a public defender if you meet the economic test the court may impose.
Answer Applies to: District of Columbia
Replied: 6/17/2011
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
Don't plead guilty. If you can't afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Review the facts of your case with your lawyer for potential defenses. Even if there is not a viable defense, then you can still try for a disposition that involves a dismissal. Let a lawyer help you.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 6/17/2011
Timothy J. Thill P.C.
Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
You should ask the court to appoint a public defender to represent you in this case, if you are, in fact, indigent. In any case, you are probably not facing jail time, as a first offender, but having benefit of counsel will be very beneficial to you, as the consequences of a straight conviction can be very drastic, in your future life
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 6/17/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    It depends upon whether you are over 21 at the time of the incident. If you're over 21, then plead not guilty and ask to have an attorney assigned or appointed to represent you. You should get a reduction, but that depends upon which county you were caught in and whether the facts of the case. At least consult with an attorney on the matter. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Lowenstein Law Office
    Lowenstein Law Office | Anthony Lowenstein
    Not guilty - get a good lawyer and you can beat it. For more information, please see my website.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan | Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    Ask for the public defender.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
    Ultimately, whether to plead guilty is your decision. However, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor has to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. You may eligible for court-appointed council upon request with the court. I would recommend consulting privately with an attorney if you need specific legal advice. People should not plead guilty to anything unless they fully understand the consequences of a conviction. A DUI will impact a person's ability to drive for a long time.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Deal & Hooks, LLC
    Deal & Hooks, LLC | Shawn P. Hooks
    You should consult with an attorney before entering any sort of plea. The penalties for an elevated DUI can be serious, and can have long lasting consequences, even if this is your first offense. An attorney can see what defenses you may have available, and either advise you to contest certain issues or work to negotiate a deal that is in your favor.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman
    Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman | Scott G. Hilderman
    If you can't afford an attorney you should see if you qualify for a public defender. There are many defense to a DUI even with a BAC of .17. If you don't qualify for a public defender you should plead not guilty and get the discovery and see if you can get a plea agreement from the prosecutor.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman | Gabriel Dorman
    You should plead Not Guilty, at least until you have fully reviewed your case and truly understand and discuss any defenses you may have and the nature and consequences of pleading guilty. A .17% is a very high BAC. I understand that you cannot afford an attorney so I would suggest any of the following: 1) Appear in court and request the public defender to represent you; 2) Contact a few experienced DUI attorneys in your area to discuss your case. Most, if not all, DUI attorneys offer free case evaluations so why not take advantage; and 3) You can call me for a Free Case Evaluation to discuss your case in great detail. I would be happy to do so and that way you would have a far greater understanding of what is happening and what you can expect for your case. I hope this answer was helpful. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    I would never tell you to resolve something a serious as a DUI without the advice of counsel. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you should ask the judge to appoint an attorney to you so you can benefit from his advice regarding your specific situation.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Sharifi & Baron
    Sharifi & Baron | S. Yossof Sharifi
    Do not plead guilty to a DUI. It has so many unintended repercussions I can't get into all of them in an email. If you live in Utah, which I assume you do if I'm asked to answer this, do your research and hire a good Utah DUI attorney to go in there with you. A good attorney can find flaws in the evidence you will not even know to look for. That being said, there are some bad DUI attorney's here in Utah as well, so be careful who you choose. Many attorneys have payment plan options and can be flexible. If you absolutely can't afford one, ask for a public defender but again, do not just plead guilty to a DUI in Utah.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller
    Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller | Thomas Mueller
    If the police had good reason to stop you you should ask the judge at your first appearance what the penalty will be if you plead guilty. He will usually tell you and if you can accept it , then plead nolo contendre. But with a .17 B/A you will be expected to do a few more days in the Sheriff's work program.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    You should have an attorney at least look over your police report to see if there is anything that can be done. A .17% in MA is certainly over the limit (.08% for 21 and over), but many times breath test results can be suppressed. If you can't afford an attorney the court will appoint one for you. Talk to the probation department to see if you qualify. If you can hire private counsel, consider it. I know that you said that you cannot afford one, but sometimes family is there to support you if you ask. I have no idea what your situation is but I hate to see people plead out to a charge without at least speaking to an attorney. You only have one chance to get this right. You do not want to be kicking yourself for the rest of your life because somewhere down the road you tell an attorney the facts and he says, "I could have gotten you off on that."
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    It would be unethical for me to advise you as to how to plead when not serving as your attorney. It is very important to consider hiring an attorney despite the cost to represent you in a DUI case. The ability to potentially avoid the long-term negative effects to your life and your ability to seek employment after a DUI conviction can be worth the cost of the attorney by themselves. If you cannot afford private counsel then you should certainly consider requesting that the court appoint a public defender to your case. Working with an attorney may allow you to negotiate a plea deal in return for reduced and/or suspended charges or sentencing but every case is different.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Subin
    Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
    You need to plead not guilty and talk to a good DUI attorney. .17 is quite a high BAC, so the judge is going to be concerned about it.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Pontrello Law
    Pontrello Law | William Pontrello
    Find a way to pay a lawyer. DUI stays on your record for 75 years and cannot be erased.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    Talk to the prosecutor + see if they'll offer a deal to a lesser charge. They probably will.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    If you cannot afford an attorney then one will be appointed to represent you free of charge. It would be unethical for me to give you direct legal advice because you are not my client. But, some general principles are presented. Your 0.17% BAC is relatively high. Even though it is your first offense, you may only be offered a plea to a DWI instead of DWAI. DWAI is only a traffic infraction. There will be a lot of consequences to a DWI plea: Your license will probably be suspended pending prosecution but you may be entitled to a hardship privilege to drive to work. If you plea to a DWI misdemeanor, then you want a conditional discharge and not probation. Probation is a bad outcome because the Probation Department can and typically does prevent from driving altogether for an extended period. You definitely don't want probation. Your license will be revoked for six months but you may be able to get a conditional license for limited driving privileges during that period. Also, there will be a fine of up to $1,000.00, a $400.00 surcharge, a $750.00 DMV driver safety assessment, $75.00 to enroll in the DMV Drinking Driver Program (DDP) if you haven't already done it in the past five years and up to $225.00 for the DDP program itself. Then you will also have to pay your attorney on top of all of that.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    Because your bac was 0.17 or above, you could be charged under Michigan's new super drunk law. At the arraignment, you should plead not guilty and hopefully at the pre-trial the prosecutor would allow you to plead to OWI without the enhanced penalties of the super drunk law. You could also ask for a court appointed attorney to assist you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    If you cannot afford a criminal lawyer, then you can apply for a public defender, who will go over all your rights and options. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Law Offices of Marshall Tauber
    Law Offices of Marshall Tauber | Marshall Tauber
    Request a court appointed attorney to fully advise you of your rights before you plead guilty to anything.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Your summary states that you have a first offense DWI with a BAC of .17. You will not be allowed to plead to an Impaired with that high of a BAC and in most courts you will have to go to trial. The court will appoint an attorney to handle your case. You may be able to get an Impaired conviction as opposed to a DWI if your driving was not too erratic and you are in an easy jurisdiction. If you are in a tougher DWI court you will be convicted and have a criminal conviction. Your insurance can go up to $10,000 a year and you could lose your license for 6 months or longer. You will have a problem getting a job and if you are arrested again you may go to jail. I suggest you retain an experienced attorney and find a way to pay his fee which will likely be around $3,000-$5,000 in most big cities or $2,000 in some smaller cities where lawyers will often charge less for a trial. It's a very expensive mistake to make.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    If it's your first charge, diversion is probably the best choice, but the court will appoint an attorney if you can't afford to hire one.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    You need to come up with the money to retain counsel these are serious charges. Our office accepts Master Card and Visa.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    Use a public defender.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/12/2013
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    Not guilty and request a public defender.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Without an attorney, you pretty much have no choice other than to plead guilty or no contest. If you are interested in alternatives, contact a DUI specialist.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre | Jonathan T. Sarre
    If you can't afford to hire an attorney you can ask the court to appoint one to help you. The attorney will be able to sit down with you and tell you what options you have available to you. You may qualify for a diversion program that could allow you to get your DUII case dismissed if you complete a alcohol treatment program and stay out of trouble for a period of time. What you should not do is plead guilty or say anything that could be construed as an admission of guilt since "anything you say can be used against you in a court of law."
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Always plead "not guilty" at your first court appearance because that will at least get you a Pretrial Conference and a chance to plea bargain with the prosecutor. If you are .17, even for your first offense that puts you at the new "super drunk" status which means heightened penalties including possible jail time, fines, costs, vehicle immobilization, license points, driver's responsibility fees, higher insurance premiums, and suspended and/or restricted driver's license. If convicted, you are going to be paying a lot in fines, costs, probation costs, and driver's responsibility fees. A good DUI attorney will more than pay for himself in what he can save you in terms of all these costs you face. You should at least get an attorney to review the police report and Data Master results for any errors that could get the charges reduced or dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law | Eric Mark
    You need to speak with an attorney. Even if you pay for a consultation just to understand what you are facing and what the options are.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Plead guilty = go to jail. If you cant afford private counsel, then apply for the Public Defender at your arraignment, and listen to his advice. Keep in mind a little free advice: When you are arrested for DUI, whether alcohol or drugs, then upon release from jail or booking you were given documents that included 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 hearing and present any supporting evidence and testimony. If you don't know how to do these things, then hire an attorney that does. If serious about hiring counsel to help you in this, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Start out by pleading "Not Guilty." All that does is maintain your option to consult an attorney and/or to negotiate a plea deal. Remember that in a negotiation, someone gives up something and gets something. You would be giving up your right to a trial and the presumption of innocence and getting a lesser charge or a break on sentencing. In the State of Washington where I practice, we have a program called "Deferred Prosecution." Most states have that or diversion for first offenders. Deferred Prosecution is a five-year program. Anyone seeking a Deferred Prosecution must obtain an alcohol evaluation that includes a recommendation for treatment. Treatment is two years and involves treatment and AA or other self-help group attendance. Treatment is usually three days a week plus at least 2 AA meetings a week. After completing treatment, a participant in Deferred Prosecution must simply abstain from alcohol and criminal activity for three additional years and the case would be dismissed. What you give up by entering into a Deferred Prosecution is the right to any meaningful trial. If you fail to complete the program or have a new offense, you will be kicked out of the program and sentenced immediately. Another option would be to negotiate a plea agreement of some kind. Should you have any questions, please give us a call.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    The Law Firm of David Jolly
    The Law Firm of David Jolly | David Jolly
    You must absolutely plead NOT GUILTY. The advantage of a lawyer, even a public defender, is that they will protect you. If there is a legal defense available they will find it and fight for you. If not, they will protect you and be certain that the prosecutor does not take advantage of you. Also, with a 0.17 an attorney may be able to reduce the severity of the DUI charge and the related penalties. You need representation! If you have any questions regarding this issues or others, or wish to discuss how to avoid a DUI conviction please contact my office.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    LynchLaw
    LynchLaw | Michael Thomas Lynch
    If you cannot afford an attorney the Court can appoint a public defender. Consult with the PD before entering any plea. In any case, a not guilty plea should be entered until both you and your attorney have had a chance to fully review the evidence against you. Remember, it is not what you know that is important, it is only important what the District Attorney can prove.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    First you plead not guilty and if you can't afford an attorney then ask for a court appointed attorney. You do not want to represent yourself. You can represent yourself an you can also take out your own appendix with a Swiss Army Knife and no anesthetic, both are equally safe and painless.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Law Offices of John J. Ferry, Jr.
    Law Offices of John J. Ferry, Jr. | John J. Ferry, Jr.
    Check into whether you are eligible for a public defender. You should probably plead not guilty and try to get ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) which will result in the charges being dropped after meeting several requirements.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    I'm not certain what state you are in but in Texas, if you have a DUI (called DWI here) then you would have to have a lawyer represent you. If you are indigent thus could not afford to hire a lawyer, a lawyer would be appointed to represent you. You should call 3 to 5 area lawyers to get information about the situation. Most lawyers will talk to you at least briefly by phone, and many have free consultations. You may find that you are able to hire a lawyer. Moreover, you will likely need to get fees quoted in order to obtain a court appointed lawyer if you qualify. DUI/DWI has long term and far reaching consequences including enhanced punishments (the 3rd one is a felony in Texas), the loss of driving privileges, surcharges on your driver's license, and even high insurance premiums. You should fight the DUI/DWI if it is possible as once you plead guilty, the game changes. Every time you are stopped if you have alcohol on your breath, chances are great that you are going to jail. A lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and tell you if it is worth trying to fight it. Failing the breath test - especially with such a high result - does not necessarily equate to a loss. In fact, if a person looks good on the video and has a high breath test result, I find that juries really question the correctness of the breath test. Good luck to you!
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/15/2011
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