Each year, more than 1.1 million drivers are arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, experts believe that this number is only a fraction of the nearly 30 million people who likely drive under the influence without getting caught.
While driving under the influence is never acceptable, if you are arrested for a DUI, you do have the right to fight your charges.
If you want a chance at fighting them successfully to either have your charges dropped or reduced or your punishment lessened, you need help.
Keep reading to learn a few circumstances when it’s absolutely necessary to seek the help of a DUI defense attorney to fight back against your DUI charges.
This Isn’t Your First DUI Arrest
Seeing police lights in your rearview mirror after having a few drinks will cause anyone’s stomach to turn. But when you already have a DUI on your record, that sight is even worse.
In most states, the penalty for a second or third DUI is far harsher than the penalty you received for your first.
A first DUI is often a misdemeanor. You will likely face probation as well as fines, and have a DUI on your record. Depending on the state that you are arrested in and the circumstances of your arrest, you may also face some jail time.
But if you have had a DUI on your record in the last 10 years, your second DUI will carry much harsher consequences.
You’ll still have to pay a fine. You’ll face probation and a license suspension as you did with your first DUI, though both periods will likely be much longer.
The biggest difference between a first and second DUI charge is that the second carries mandatory jail time.
If you have been arrested for a second DUI, you need to hire a DUI criminal attorney right away. If there is any chance of reducing your charges, you’ll need a DUI defense lawyer to help you find it.
After your second arrest for a DUI, you also might want to reevaluate how you’re coping with your addiction to drugs or alcohol. It may be time to check yourself into rehab to make a change in your life and avoid a third DUI charge in your future.
You Aren’t Guilty
While rare, it is possible to be accused of a DUI when you really weren’t driving drunk.
Perhaps the officer mis-performed the sobriety tests. Or you refused to take the tests for one reason or another, but weren’t drinking that night.
Or maybe you did take a breathalyzer test and you were on the line between the legal limit and being over, and you feel you should not have been charged. There is a margin of error, especially involving breathalyzer tests performed in the field.
Whatever the case, if you’re convinced that you are not guilty and are being falsely accused, you’ll definitely need a lawyer’s help to fight your charges.
Trying to figure out how to fight a DUI without a lawyer is never a good idea. The legal process is incredibly complicated, especially when it comes to DUI charges.
If you want the best possible chance of fighting your charges and avoiding a DUI on your record, you’ll want a DUI lawyer’s help.
You Feel the Arresting Officer Didn’t Follow Protocol
Whether you are truly guilty of driving under the influence or not, there are specific protocols that have to be followed while making an arrest.
Sometimes those protocols aren’t followed. Maybe the officer was overly aggressive towards you. Or you don’t feel that the sobriety tests were performed correctly or interpreted fairly.
If you feel that the arresting officer or other officers at the scene did something wrong, you’ll need to be able to prove it in court.
Unless the offense is obvious, you may be uncertain about whether or not the procedures were properly performed, especially if this is your first DUI charge.
A DUI lawyer will listen to your story and help you determine whether the officer or officers acted inappropriately. If they determine that you were right and something was off, they’ll help you compile a case to present in court.
Navigating this process requires advanced knowledge of the law, as well as experience presenting evidence to a judge. Trying to go it alone is likely only going to get your complaints dismissed.
You Caused a Serious Accident
Every day in the U.S., 29 people die as a result of auto accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver.
If you drink and drive and cause an accident, you’ll be facing far more serious charges than you would with a DUI that doesn’t lead to an accident. While the charges will be more severe if a death occurs, an accident that causes only injuries and property damage will still lead to harsher penalties.
If the accident leads to a death or a serious injury, you could be facing spending the rest of your life in prison for vehicular manslaughter.
As soon as you are able to, seek out the help of an experienced DUI lawyer. They’ll help you navigate the legal process to see what can be done to lessen your charges.
Don’t hire just any lawyer. An attorney with experience fighting DUI charges, like The Benari Law Group, will give you the best chance of reducing your penalties.
Your Livelihood Depends on Your Ability to Drive
Losing your license and facing probation is a major obstacle for anyone.
If you’re lucky, the consequences at your workplace won’t be much worse than failing a drug test and facing counseling or probation.
Depending on your career, you could face the loss of your job or have trouble getting a job if you’re unemployed.
Unless you get driving rights to get you to and from work, you’ll be at the mercy of your friends or family or public transportation to get you where you need to go.
But if you drive for a living, losing your license is much more serious. Whether you’re a bus driver or hold your CDL, a DUI will not only likely mean losing your job, but will also make it impossible to get another job in your field. You’ll lose your CDL, and never be eligible to get another.
The only way to prevent this is to get your charges reduced from DUI to reckless driving or another charge. You could try to fight your charges on your own to get them reduced. But if you aren’t familiar with DUI law and the legal process, your chances of success are low.
Don’t risk your future and your career any more than you already have. Let an experienced DUI lawyer decide how to fight your charges and whether or not you have any chance of avoiding getting a DUI on your record.
When You Don’t Need to Hire a DUI Lawyer
If you know you aren’t guilty, feel your arrest was mishandled, or think that there is a chance your charges could get reduced, you’ll want a DUI attorney’s help.
But not every DUI charge requires a lawyer.
Lawyers are expensive. When you’re already facing fees for your DUI, adding in the cost of a lawyer may put you into debt or be completely unattainable.
If you can’t afford a lawyer or choose not to hire your own, you’ll be assigned a public defender. While you won’t get the same specialized care and professional help of an experienced DUI attorney, you’ll at least have some help navigating the legal process.
In some cases, though, a public defender might be the better choice.
If this is your first DUI, and you have no other serious charges on your record, you may not need a lawyer. If you weren’t far over the legal limit, didn’t put anyone in danger, and won’t lose your job if you get a DUI, you’ll be better off saving your money and facing your charges.
Another instance when you don’t need to bother hiring a DUI lawyer is if you know that there’s no chance of beating your charges.
If you’re arrested and are far over the legal limit and all tests are performed appropriately, there’s little chance you’ll escape a DUI charge.
Finding a DUI Defense Attorney
Whether you’re charged with a DUI or your DUI defense attorney is able to get your charges reduced, being accused of drunk driving can change your life.
You may face jail time and probation. You’ll lose your license, either temporarily or permanently if it isn’t your first offense.
You could lose your job or face changes in your personal life.
How you handle these changes will determine what your future is like. If your drunk driving incident has inspired you to make changes, rehab may be in your future.
Click here to learn how to choose the right rehab center to help you get started on your journey towards sobriety and healing.