What Can a Lawyer Do for a DUI?
You or a family member may be arrested for driving under the influence of liquor, commonly called DUI. Anyone can unintentionally drink too much, get behind the wheel and be stopped for DUI. But harsh federal laws mean that if you are arrested for DUI, you should call an experienced lawyer for the best possible legal representation.
While laws differ from state to state, federal regulations mandate that the national limit for DUI is .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC). Calculating the exact amount of alcohol it takes for a person to be considered a drunk driver can be difficult because of a variety of factors. However, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) estimates that five drinks within two hours will result in intoxication for men, while four drinks during the same time frame will cause a woman to become drunk.
Federal and state laws also mean mandatory sentencing even for first-time offenders, including substantial fines, the suspension of your driver’s license, possible work-order hours, substance abuse classes, possible probation and jail time. Your insurance rates will increase, or worse yet, your insurance company will cancel your coverage. In addition, as of February 2012, 15 states required ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders. These expensive devices attach to the steering wheel of the vehicle. The driver must blow into the device, which registers the person’s BAC. If the driver has a BAC between .02 and .04 percent, the vehicle will not start. The offender must pay for the ignition interlock device himself, which can cost from $100 to $200 to install. Additional rental fees range between $70 and $100 per month.
A DUI arrest seriously limits your ability to drive and will cost you unnecessary money. An effective DUI attorney can help you fight your case in court so that you do not have to suffer the consequences of a DUI on your record. For additional charges such as reckless driving, driving with a minor in the car, causing an accident or an excessively high BAC, first-time offenders face enhanced sentences. For a second-time DUI offender, the penalties for drinking and driving also escalate rapidly.
Request a Lawyer
If you are arrested, you should immediately ask for a lawyer. The police cannot ask you any further questions. You may want to cooperate with them and unknowingly say something that will add to your problems. On the other hand, you might become belligerent which could cause police to charge you with resisting arrest. However, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, your license may be suspended immediately.
Most DUI attorneys offer a free initial consultation. You can take a trusted family member or friend with you who will help you remember what to ask. The consultation assists you in deciding if you can work with the lawyer. You should discuss case philosophy and his track record in court. In addition, you will want to review fees, payment plans and financing options.
Examine the Evidence
A DUI lawyer will strategize effectively to address your arrest. First, he will question and examine everything surrounding the case, including all procedural evidence obtained by law enforcement. You have specific constitutional rights, and if even one of these is violated, the courts can drop your case. Second, judges differ on their views of DUI. Some treat first-time offenders harshly while others may offer more leniency. An experienced attorney knows this and will work to find a judge who may be sympathetic to your case, in spite of mandatory sentencing laws.
An effective DUI attorney knows how to work with plea bargains while creatively allowing you to fulfill legal requirements. Plea bargains generally allow the prosecutor to reduce the stated charges, which results in a less severe sentence.
Pre-Trial and Trial
If the case goes before a judge, you will meet for a pre-trial conference. These negotiations outline trial information, and an attorney may be able to reduce the severity of the charges. However, a lawyer can never guarantee the outcome of a case. At trial, your lawyer will help with jury selection and defend you against the prosecution. He will call expert witnesses to testify on your behalf.
Written by Phil Balbo, staff writer at Price Benowitz LLP. For more information about these laws or a free consultation following an arrest, please contact the DC traffic lawyers with Price Benowitz LLP. You can also learn more about the survey at AT&T.