As a DUI attorney, I can personally confirm that there is an enormous amount of great information available to those facing drunk driving charges spread out all across the internet. Fifteen years ago, there were very few opportunities for defendants to obtain information that could help them better understand their charges and avoid common mistakes. Now there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pages on the internet attempting to explain complex case law.
This has led a lot of people to misinterpret this particular field of law and attempt to defend their charges themselves. They read an article about how to beat their DUI and assume that they do not need a lawyer to do so. This line of thinking is dangerous—not only because you may be missing out on an opportunity to lessen your penalties but also because you may miss an opportunity to have your case thrown out and your charges dropped.
There are countless reasons why hiring a skilled DUI attorney is one of the best things that defendants can do to help their situation, but I am going to focus on the reasons why trying to do it yourself is a horrible idea and why.
No Matter How Smart You Are You Can Easily Make Mistakes That Destroy Your Case
It’s a fact that people can go to their local library or pull up the Internet and gain access to California criminal and traffic law codes. While these laws may seem pretty straight forward, the truth is, California law codes can quickly become confusing. If you interpret a law other than the way it is originally meant, then, you can sabotage your own case.
Before switching sides and defending those facing DUI charges, I used to be the District Attorney prosecutor. An inexperienced person has to remember that the prosecutor has years of education behind them. They are trained in California laws so that they know them inside and out. In addition, they are highly trained in case law research, so they know where to locate any cases that may set precedence for your situation.
The average person wants to believe that they can learn the multitude of intricacies that separate and define different laws relating to these offenses, but that is simply irrational. Attorneys spend several years learning this information, and many of them are unable to master it enough to obtain their Attorney’s license. Those who believe they can perform as well or better than a lawyer with years of experience usually cannot afford a lawyer, so they convince themselves that they don’t need one.
When people attempt to represent themselves, they can inadvertently sabotage their situation by not knowing as much as they think they do. Not knowing the laws as well as an attorney puts attorney-less defendants at an extreme disadvantage.
Imagine taking someone who has never gone to medical school and putting them in the operating room to perform brain surgery. Sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it? That situation would never happen because the person performing the operation would do more harm than good. That’s because while they may have read a book on brain surgery they don’t have the skills and knowledge required to do the job correctly.
This is the same when it comes to individuals representing themselves in court versus obtaining a bar-certified lawyer. Self-representation is playing Russian roulette except instead of risking your life you are risking your freedom.
You Don’t Know What You’re Up Against Without A Knowledgable Attorney
Having an attorney by your side in court when facing a DUI charge is not an option; it’s a critical decision that you need to make for these reasons:
Hiring an Attorney Can Save Money – Many people think that they can represent themselves in order to save money. The truth is that many people who try and defend themselves end up spending more money to fulfill their court obligations than they would have if they hired a DUI defense lawyer. This is because a skilled attorney may be able to identify important evidence or expose flaws in the gathering of the evidence performed by your arresting officers that result in a defendant’s case being thrown out early on. Attorneys not only have knowledge and skills, but they have made valuable connections through the years. These connections can prove invaluable when it comes to a court of law.
- Time is of the Essence – In order to execute due process of the law, hearings and trials must be expedited in a timely manner. Every court case has specific deadlines. If a deadline is missed, then, it can be detrimental to the case. Those with little to no experience with the courts can easily overlook important court dates or come completely unprepared.
- Ensuring Protection of Evidence and Witness Statements – In any case, but especially with a DUI, evidence and witness statements are crucial. Attorneys have procedures and protective measures in place to protect and preserve these two. Improper handling or loss of either of them can disrupt as well as prolong the court process.
- Identifying What Is and Isn’t Admissible – Attorneys are experts at analyzing the facts of a case. This means that they are experts in the courtroom, so they know what is and is not relevant. If a non-experienced person attempts to bring forth facts that cannot be admitted in court, then, the evidence or information is inadmissible. So what happens when you base your entire case around that information? Chances are you just sentenced yourself to time you had not planned on serving.
- Identifying Weak Case versus Strong Case – Most people who attempt to represent themselves do so because they think they have a weak case. Attorneys can examine a case and see the flaws as well as the strengths it. They are trained to see things that the average person does not. A case that a person thought was weak could actually be more complex and require more time and focus. Not being able to see the big picture when it comes to a court case could cost the person trying to represent themselves more than they anticipate in time and money.
There may be several good reasons as to why a person feels that it is in their best interest to represent themselves. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for the skills and knowledge that come with hiring an attorney. When it comes to your freedom, you want to know that you have the best representation possible.