When you are arrested for drunk driving, you have the right to represent yourself in the upcoming legal process. You can appear in court alone and take your chances on a judge being empathetic to you.
However, many judges take their obligation to protect the public seriously and recommend punishments like jail time and fines for people convicted of this charge. You may garner better favor from the court and avoid going to jail or paying steep fines by hiring a DUI attorney to represent you.
Avoiding Jail Time
You ideally want to stay out of jail, even if you are found guilty of drunk driving. If it is your first offense, you may not deserve to go to jail for weeks or months at a time. You may deserve a lighter punishment, such as community service or drug and alcohol counseling, particularly if you did not cause any damage to property or loss of life.
Your DUI attorney can bring up those points when representing you in court. He or she can ask the court to give you a lesser sentence and allow you to avoid going to jail. You may even be able to get the case against you discharged if you complete a rehab program.
Avoiding Expensive Fines
Your DUI attorney can also help you avoid paying thousands of dollars, if not more, in civil fines because of your offense. Even if you stay out of jail, you may still owe the city or county some sort of financial compensation. Still, you do not want the fines to be so expensive that it takes you months or longer to pay them off.
Your DUI attorney can ask for the lowest civil penalty allowed by the court. He or she can argue that you live on a modest income, do not have valuable assets, and would experience financial duress if you were heavily fined. Your DUI attorney may convince the judge to give you a small fine, especially if it is your first offense, that you can pay off easier.
Finally, your DUI attorney may be able to expunge your record after you serve out your sentence. Your criminal record will be clean and not show any DUI charge or conviction.
A DUI attorney can provide valuable services. He or she can argue for the least amount of punishment and a civil fine. Your lawyer can also expunge your record.