What Can a DUI Lawyer Do for Me?
If you are arrested on DUI charges, perhaps among your first thoughts—maybe not as you are being handcuffed and stuffed into a police car, but certainly the next day—would be, can a lawyer get me out of this? What can a lawyer do for me now? The answer is both surprising and contradictory. For starters, the answer might appear to be, “not much.”
After all, all 50 states have per se drunk-driving laws, meaning that if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or higher, you are going to be charged with DUI, and you’ll almost always be convicted, in the absence of a problem with the breath test. At that BAC level, you are considered to be legally under the influence of alcohol, and if you test at that level or above, that’s pretty much it. Lawyer, no lawyer, you’re almost certain to be convicted.
That doesn’t mean a DUI attorney can’t do anything for you. First off, “almost” is not a certainty. A good DUI attorney might be able to find a way to get you out of a DUI charge. Breath tests aren’t perfect, even when the machine is calibrated regularly, which it isn’t always. There could be flaws in the initial stop made by the police. For instance, the police cannot stop you for no reason. A traffic stop requires probable cause. That means the police must have reason to believe that you were breaking the law.
That’s probably not much of a barrier, given that could include anything from a burned-out headlight, taillight, or pretty much any other legally required light on your car. Or it could mean erratic driving, such as driving far below the speed limit, far over the speed limit, or any other action on the road that could give police reason to believe you are under the influence. But if the police report gives no evidence of probable cause, your attorney might be able to successfully challenge the propriety of the initial traffic stop.
There Are Many Ways a DUI Attorney Can Help You
Aside from the possibility that a good DUI lawyer can get you an acquittal on DUI charges—and yeah, that’s a very big deal—there are many other things a DUI attorney can do for you, even if acquittal turns out not to be one of them. For instance, a DUI attorney will:
- Assess your case: Not all DUI cases are created equal, and your DUI attorney can tell you whether your case carries more serious or less serious possible consequences, depending upon your circumstances. This could include such things as whether your blood alcohol level makes you eligible for stiffer penalties, whether community service or some form of plea bargain might be available, or if you are eligible for a pre-trial diversion program. Your DUI attorney—even at a free consultation, which most DUI attorneys provide—can tell you what the consequences of a conviction will be and the punishments you could face. The attorney also may be able to suggest ways to mitigate those potential consequences.
- Help you through the legal process: When you are charged with DUI, you aren’t just dealing with the court. While that would be difficult enough—especially on your own—you also have to deal with the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles. If you refuse to take a BAC test, fail that test, or don’t complete the test, the DMV can and will suspend your license. Known as a statutory summary suspension, this action is completely independent of any criminal sanctions that might be imposed by a court. If you face this suspension, your DUI attorney can help make sure you the proper forms get filed, represent you at a DMV hearing, and get you through the process as quickly as possible.
- Tell you when to shut your mouth: A DUI attorney will know when you should just be quiet. Many people charged with a crime, DUI or otherwise, believe that if they just tell their story, they can explain how this is all a big mistake. This is almost always a bad idea, as it subjects you to cross-examination by the prosecutors. A DUI attorney can keep you from making that mistake.
- Bring inside knowledge to dealing with the court and prosecutors: The odds that you understand the court system and know the prosecutors better than a DUI attorney are pretty much nil. DUI attorneys go into those courts every day. You (hopefully) don’t.
- Manage your case so that you meet deadlines and make any filings required or that could help your case: Court cases of any kind thrive on filings—motions, discovery requests, you name it, there’s a court filing for it. A DUI attorney will make sure all proper filings are made at the proper time.
- Negotiate the best possible deal for you with the prosecutors: DUI attorneys negotiate deals with prosecutors routinely. The prosecutor doesn’t want to take a case to trial—it’s too time-consuming and expensive. They would rather make a deal, and a DUI attorney will get you the best possible deal where you didn’t even know a deal was available. In fact, prosecutors often won’t make deals with unrepresented defendants. They’re too certain of an easy win.
Ways an Attorney Can Help
Mostly what an attorney can do for you is make sure you are prepared to go to court by helping you understand what is going to be expected of you. An attorney can help you complete some requirements prior to your court appearance. For example, your attorney may help you obtain SR-22 auto insurance and file the proper forms with the department of motor vehicles. Also, your attorney may have you complete any alcohol education or treatment programs required by your Illinois to regain your driving privileges.
In other words, your attorney can guide you through the process that he knows you will eventually have to go through anyway. But you can do so prior to sentencing so that your driving privileges will be restored as quickly as possible.
If you can afford to pay a DUI lawyer’s fees, then hire the best attorney you can afford. If this is your first experience with breaking the law and you are baffled by the entire process, an attorney can walk you through the steps and make things go as smoothly as possible.
If You Are Facing DUI Charges in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, Talk to the Criminal Attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C.
Find out What a DUI Defense Attorney Can Do for You
DUI charges are not something you should try to face on your own. With your likely complete lack of knowledge of the laws involved, the administrative procedures, and the court process, trying to face DUI charges without an attorney is a recipe for disaster. Instead, you should call the criminal defense attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C. For a consultation in the DuPage, Kane, and Cook County areas, contact us 24 hours a day at (630) 474-8000.