Do I need a lawyer for a DUI?

They all tell us not to drink and drive, or take drugs and drive. And somehow we end up having a DUI case. If you are not familiar with the term, here is how it goes: “driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.” And you know deep down that operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous. And it is dangerous for you, in the first place. But if you are in this already, you should learn about the possible outcomes for a DUI case. You may think that you don’t need a DUI lawyer, but keep on reading and you might change your mind.

DUI lawyer

What we are going to talk about today is not about the level of danger you get yourself into while driving drunk or under drugs. We are going to talk about whether or not you need a lawyer for a DUI. First of all, without me ever mentioning, you know that hiring an experienced DUI lawyer always has its benefits. Some of those benefits include the familiarity with the court system, knowledge of plea barging details and of course, the ability to navigate complex administration procedures. Could you do all of that on your own? Maybe yes, but probably not. And could you do all of that and some more?

One very important thing to note is the following. The DUI laws are not about you being drunk or intoxicated to be considered guilty of DUI charges. The laws, instead, actually measure your ability of driving by determining whether you are impaired. And that is based on whether you blood alcohol level exceeds the state limit. And if you are a driver, then you should already know this: the blood alcohol limit is .08% in all states. So you can’t go around hoping to find out that the alcohol limit is different in your state. It is all the same.

There are some factors, important factors to consider, which may have an influence on the consequences of your specific DUI case. They differ from state to state. Those are your blood alcohol content (BAC), age. Don’t forget that it is also important if you have been arrested for DUI in the past. And of course, whether you caused injury or death during the DUI has some say in how your DUI case will go. And when you think about all of that, you probably have a clue whether or not you are going to need a DUI lawyer. But if you are still searching for answers, here is what you should consider before making a decision.

Is this your first time?

Is this your first DUI offense? If yes, then you might be thinking about self-representation. And it is logical: you have a clean criminal background and even if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) results were a bit over-the-line, you think it can be forgiven. And in reality, if this is your first DUI offense the judges and prosecutors will be looking at your case lightly. From their perspective, first-time DUI offenses are highly routine and are handled like traffic offenses. With that in mind, spending about $5,000 for a DUI lawyer seems unreasonable and unnecessary.

But it is not always that simple. You may suspect any sort of misconduct, mishandling of blood samples and other possible defense to your DUI charge. In these cases, it will be in your best interest to have an attorney by your side. Because your DUI lawyer will gather information, file a motion to dismiss evidence. And he/she will just simply argue on your behalf against the charges. Usually, the consequences of a first-time DUI are not horrible. However, it might be worth hiring a lawyer if there is even a slight change of total dismissal. Because, that is what you really want, right?

Not your first time? High BAC results?

You should know that certain provoking factors can have the kind of influence on your DUI case that they turn it into a major criminal offense. And that can result in huge fines, penalties and even some jail time. Well, no one wants that. The two common provoking factors are subsequent offenses and a very high BAC result. If at least one of these issues is present in your case then you should go get yourself a lawyer for a DUI. Your lawyer will help you save your freedom and additional money.

If you are a repeat offender, especially if you have faced a third of a fourth, or maybe more DUI offense, you may have a lot to lose. As the amount of fines differ from state to state here is an approximate number: $10.000. This is what you might face. And moving on to jail time: can max out at 15-20 years. You might be thinking that this is absurd. But this is the main reason behind those strict punishments: lawmakers are trying to keep these “high-risk” citizens off the roads because that way they can avoid possible accidents. But with a good lawyer, you might be able to get out of this. The facts surrounding a second or third DUI may be such that a lawyer can argue against the burden of additional punitive measures. This can be done especially if the previous offenses were several years ago.

And now about the BAC reading: a very high result might lead to increased penalties. Your attorney might be able to offer alternative explanations for the BAC results collected by a laboratory technician. Those explanations include:

  • Tainted or mishandled evidence
  • Failure to properly maintain samples, causing fermentation
  • Failure to maintain chain-of-custody procedures
  • Possible mix-up with other samples
  • Medical conditions
  • Unreasonable delay between arrest and testing, suggesting inaccuracy

Are you underage?

I will tell you up front: if you have an underage DUI case you should strongly consider hiring an experienced attorney. An underage DUI arrest can cause catastrophic collateral damage to your future. If you are wondering why it is so serious, here is why: you could lose your driving privileges for several years. And it could make your life pretty hard: how are you going to go to work or school? You can’t ask someone to drive you places for several years.

And that is not the worst part. Students may be expelled from school for a DUI conviction. And it can mess up their future plans. Moreover, we know that it is hard to represent yourself in court. And it is even harder for an underage offender.

Were there any accidents, injury, property damage and maybe even death?

The previous three issues are a piece of cake compared to this one. The most extreme DUI penalties are for those cases that involve bodily injury, extensive property damage, and death. I think there is no need to stress again how important it is to have a lawyer when faced with this. But I will stress it again anyway. As the stakes are the highest of any DUI-related charges in these cases, it is essential to have a DUI lawyer. And a DUI defendant who is involved in a fatal accident will, without question, face a vehicle manslaughter or homicide charge. And with the same thought accidents causing extreme bodily injury or lifelong disability will incur the following:

  • additional charges including assault
  • battery
  • criminal negligence
  • reckless indifference, depending on the jurisdiction, etc.

As you see the defendants facing these severe charges definitely need a lawyer. With the help of an experienced DUI lawyer, you might be able to enter a plea bargain in exchange for a reduced sentence. And since the stakes are very high the jail time and fines of $10,000 are a possibility. So, it is advisable to have an attorney help you through the bargaining process and receive a lesser punishment.

To sum up, if you are facing a DUI you are probably in not much of a trouble. Well, of course, if it is not your third or fourth case. And of course, if you are not underage and there are no severe consequences like bodily injuries and death. But it is always in your best interest to hire a DUI lawyer.


  • Thanks for explaining some reasons to have a DUI lawyer. It’s good to know that having an lawyer like this can help gather information and can help argue on your behalf against charges. I’m kind of interested to learn what kind of information they are looking for or if it could different depending on the situation.

    Taylor Bishop
  • I didn’t know you could lose driving privileges for years if accused of an underage dui. I know my son is getting into things with his friends lately, but I should remind him that these are big consequences. I can’t afford to have him without his license.

    Kenneth Gladman
  • I didn’t know that if it is your first DUI offense your judge and prosecutors might take your case more lightly, like you said. I will have to tell my friend this. He has been looking for a lawyer and has been worried that the court process might be harsh and difficult. I’m sure getting a lawyer is good for first timers too.

    Gary Puntman
  • I enjoy the article

  • Thanks for the great manual

  • I found it really interesting that the time in between the arrest and the time of the test can be an indicator that there was mishandling with the sample. I have never gotten a DUI, but a brother of mine has a very bad habit of driving home after a long night at the bar. If my brother continues this habit, I will have to suggest to him that he gets a DUI lawyer for his eventual arrest.

    Ken Hwan
  • This is truly helpful, thanks.

  • It got me when you said that it will be in my best interest to hire a DUI lawyer because they will gather information for my and file a motion to dismiss the evidence. Actually, I do think that they do not have enough evidence to prove that my brother is driving under the influence, so I think it would be good to hire a lawyer. That way, we have someone to back our belief by doing everything they can to prove that we are right.

    Emery Jean Chambers
  • Thanks for pointing out how a people should look into hiring a DUI attorney if they see a chance of dismissal no matter how small it is. My aunt drank a little too much on her daughter’s wedding, and she made the mistake of driving back home. Her home is just a couple of miles down the road, so she is very hopeful for a dismissal. I will be sure to advise her to get a DUI attorney that can help her out.

    Kit Hannigan
  • Even though I never plan on drinking or driving, there may be a time to where I forget how much I have had and do so. Now as you said, if I were to get pulled over, I would be arrested and I’d have to go to court. I’d for sure see about hiring a DUI lawyer as I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what to say or do once in court.

    Caden Dahl
  • You advised that we should strongly consider hiring an experienced attorney if we get a DWI when underage. This is great to know, especially because my niece just got charged with this. It was her first time drinking and she didn’t think that anything bad would happen. I’ll let her know this information so that she can look for an attorney to hire.

    Kate Welling
  • It is nice to know that a lawyer will be able to help you if there are additional charges. This makes it a lot simpler to avoid serious jail time. A cousin of mine is thinking about getting a DUI lawyer and might like this insight.

    Camille Devaux
  • Really enjoyed this article, is there any way I can get an email whenever you publish a new article?

  • I’ve heard that my brother was charged with DUI even though he doesn’t drink and drive. Thanks for adding that a DUI lawyer can help especially since it’s his first offense to commit it. He’s a shy guy so I know that he can’t think about self-representation so I will suggest to him to hire a lawyer to have someone speak on his behalf.

    Angela Waterford
  • I never knew that my brother may have a chance to spend over $5000 because he was charged with DUI. In my opinion, I think he should hire an attorney so that he can avoid paying such a high amount. It might be a good idea to tell him to avoid doing this next time so that he won’t be jailed.

    Angela Waterford

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