I Can’t Afford a DUI Attorney, Can I Represent Myself During Court Proceedings?

Can you represent yourself in a DUI case?  Yes, you can. In some cases, it is the most cost-effective approach. In others, it might be worth trying to find the money for  representation from an experienced DUI lawyer.

In this Drunk Drivers Rights article, you will learn what options you have if you can’t afford a DUI attorney for your case.

When a DUI Defense Attorney Might Not Be Needed

If you have never been charged with DUI or have a DUI conviction, then there are a few situations where a DUI lawyer might not be necessary. They won’t help your case.

You intend to plead guilty: If you were driving drunk and admit it, and are willing to deal with the consequences of a first time offense, then there is no need to hire a DUI lawyer.

Your BAC was very high: If you had a blood alcohol content level 1.5 times the legal limit or higher, you will likely be convicted of drunk driving. An experienced DUI attorney can successfully argue against a BAC that is barely over the legal limit, showing how breathalyzer tests and even blood tests can be faulty. However, when it is way over the limit, conviction is standard. Paying an attorney to represent you probably would be a waste of money.

Other strong evidence that you were impaired: If witnesses are prepared to testify that you were weaving all over the road, or you wrecked your car on a dry road in good weather, or your miserably failed the field sobriety tests, conviction is a high probability and there is no need to spend money on a DUI defense lawyer.

When You Should Hire a DUI Lawyer

Your BAC barely exceeds the limit: If your state laws have a .08 legal limit and your BAC was .09 or .010, a skilled lawyer might be able to successfully refute the way the test was conducted or give other reasons for a faulty reading such as medication you were taking or the machine was improperly calibrated.

Your case will be strengthened if you were able to handle the field sobriety tests fairly well and were not slurring your speech. Discuss these issues with a DUI attorney who can evaluate the likelihood of beating the charge.

You intend to plea bargain: Most states have a legal limit and then a second, higher limit at which fines and penalties are increased. If your BAC wasn’t grossly high and if you weren’t visibly drunk in your field sobriety tests, a good DUI defense attorney might be able to successfully plea bargain for you so that charges are reduced and you get the lightest possible penalty.

You suspect mistakes were made: You’ll have to be well-informed to know if mistakes might have been made. Potential mistakes include failure to inform you of the consequences of refusing a breath test, failure to disclose your Miranda rights, illegally searching your vehicle, the use of a hostile or aggressive approach meant to intimidate, a lack of probable cause and using improper methods of determining impairment.

Some DUI attorneys will provide a free or low-cost case evaluation. You can meet with them to go over all the facts of the case. They will ask questions and may seek documentation from the police. The result is that they will advise you about the possibility of having the charges dropped, reduced or of beating them in court. Good DUI attorneys will also honestly tell you if representing yourself and pleading guilty is the most cost-effective choice for you or if you might be able to beat the charges with a good attorney.