If you were recently stopped while driving and ultimately charged with driving under the influence (DUI) you probably have a number of questions and concerns about your situation. You may also have talked to friends, family members, or even co-workers about your pending charges and asked them for advice and guidance. One of the most important concerns you may have is the need for legal representation. If this is your first DUI, you may even be wondering if you really need to spend your time and money looking for and retaining a DUI lawyer. Ultimately, the decision to hire a lawyer or proceed pro se (without counsel) is yours to make; however, before you decide to go it alone, consider the following:
- A conviction is not always a foregone conclusion. One reason defendants who are charged with DUI often consider proceeding pro se is that they (mistakenly) believe a conviction is a certainty so why bother paying a lawyer. The arresting officer and the prosecuting attorney would certainly like you to believe that as it makes their jobs much easier. The truth, however, is that there are several common defense strategies that might work in your case and allow you to avoid a conviction altogether. Before you forego legal representation based on the assumption that you will end up with a conviction anyway, at least consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney first to find out if you have a viable defense in your case that might lead to an acquittal.
- All plea agreements are not the same. If you have already made up your mind to accept a guilty plea agreement in lieu of actually litigating your case, you may feel that an attorney is not needed because of that decision. That line of thinking assumes that all plea agreements are the same and, therefore, you gain nothing by having an attorney negotiate yours for you. All plea agreements are not the same though. The reason it is referred to as plea negotiations or plea bargaining is that the terms of a plea agreement are not set in stone. The prosecuting attorney probably does have a standard plea agreement that is offered to most first time defendants; however, just because that is what is offered does not mean that is the agreement you must accept. An experienced DUI defense attorney will actually negotiate with the prosecutor in an effort to obtain an agreement that is as favorable to you as possible. For example, if doing community service work would be problematic for you because of your job, your attorney might be able to negotiate an agreement without those hours. Likewise, your attorney might be able to negotiate an agreement with less time on probation.
- You will be expected to understand the law and the rules of court. If you choose to represent yourself in your DUI case, you will not be treated differently simply because you are not a licensed attorney. The judge may (or may not) be more patient with you; however, ultimately you will be expected to know, and follow, the court rules as well as know and understand the laws that are applicable to your case.
- You probably won’t save as much money as you may think. For most people, the temptation to proceed pro se is motivated, in large part, by financial considerations. You may think that by foregoing an attorney you will save a considerable amount of money. Not always true after you really take everything into account. Without an attorney, you will almost certainly be convicted. Moreover, the terms of your plea agreement or sentence will likely be more costly if you did not have an attorney to negotiate the agreement or argue for a more lenient sentence.
In the end, only you can make the final decision to retain a DUI lawyer or to proceed without one; however, given what is at stake, it is in your best interest to think long and hard before making that decision
Contact a Nebraska DUI Lawyer
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in the State of Nebraska, contact the Sarpy County DUI attorneys at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.