If you’ve recently been arrested for a DUI, you may be wondering if it’s completely necessary to hire an attorney to handle your case. It is definitely a big expense, and if you’re going to lose anyway, paying for a lawyer to watch you do it might seem like a waste of money. It can be a difficult decision to choose to represent yourself, but there are a few situations where it might not hurt you:

Pleading Guilty:

There are some cases where it might be better for you to just plead guilty. For example, if this is your first DUI, and there’s a good chance you’ll be convicted, you may not need an attorney. If the arresting officer or a witness testifies to your reckless driving, and you have a solid BAC test showing that your levels were above .11 it could be in your best interest to plead guilty without the help of a DUI lawyer. In most first offense DUIs judges generally go with a standard sentence that rarely varies anyway, so a lawyer might not be able to assist you. If your case is cut and dry, and a standard first offense where no one was injured, you might be just fine without an attorney.

Sentence bargaining:

Similar to plea bargaining, where you admit guilt for a lesser charge like reckless driving, sentence bargaining occurs when you plead guilty only after you know what your sentence will be. This is useful in DUI cases that are extreme, like second offenses or cases that involve injury or death. In these types of cases, it’s likely that the sentence will be much more severe, and you may want to know what sentence you’ll get before you plead guilty. Though you may be able to handle this situation by yourself, it would probably be in your best interest to hire an attorney.

Second offense:

Without a doubt, if this is not your first drunk driving charge, you should hire an attorney. Even if you’re concerned about the costs, there are many lawyers out there who will work with you on the price, and what you’ll save having a lawyer will be worth much more than what you pay. The penalties for a second offense are much harsher than for a first offense, no matter what state you received either charge in. You’ll need someone with the experience to help you navigate the legal waters, and help bring down your sentence.

Aggravated offense:

If this is a repeat offense for you, or if someone was injured or killed in the incident, you need to have a lawyer. DUI cases can be tricky, and in some situations a lawyer may be able to find a way to get you off on a much lighter sentence. It’s a good idea to look for a lawyer that’s familiar with your area, since they’re more likely to know the judge and the prosecutor. Additionally, if you had an exceptionally high BAC, you’ll want a lawyer as well. Depending on the state, if your BAC level was more than double your state’s legal limits, harsher penalties may apply, making a lawyer more than necessary.

Going to trial:

If you plan on taking your case to trial, you need to have an attorney. While you’re legally able to represent yourself, it’s seriously discouraged. Lawyers go to school for years to master the tricks of the courtroom, and unfortunately it’s not something that can be learned in just a few weeks time. A lawyer will be familiar with the proceedings, and will know how to best assist you in this situation. If you’re willing to spend the time going to trial, and especially if you are innocent, you should have legal representation. It’s important to remember that if you qualify, you can always apply for legal representation from the public defender. This is a much more affordable option that will provide you with the legal council you need.

Initial Consultation:

It is good to note that most attorneys offer a free initial consultation. This means that you can get some initial advice from a qualified DUI lawyer before you have to start paying for it. By visiting a reputable attorney with experience in your area, you may be able to gain some insight into the probability of your desired case results, and you may get a clearer idea of what exactly is going to happen. From there, you can decide if it will be plausible to represent yourself, or if it may be a better choice to hire legal representation.

The consequences of a DUI charge are different in every state, but Illinois is one of the harshest enforcers of drunk driving penalties. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, but aren’t sure what to do, give the Epstein Law Firm a call. Jack Epstein and his team of qualified attorneys have been handling DUI cases in Illinois for more than 22 years. We have the experience necessary to help you with your DUI case. Give us a call at 773-522-7000 or submit a request for your free case evaluation online today!

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