Driving under the influence is a serious problem in Illinois, and across the entire country for that matter. Every month, about 2.2 percent of drivers on Illinois roads get caught driving under the influence.
If you’ve gotten arrested and charged with a DUI, you’re left with two choices: represent yourself, or hire an experienced DUI attorney to represent your case for you.
Representing yourself may seem like a better and more affordable option, but it’s not always the best idea. Here’s why.
1. You Don’t Have Experience
The legal system is incredibly complicated. Not only do you need to understand the nuances of the law, but you also need to be familiar with how other legal professionals interpret that law.
When you work with an experienced DUI attorney, you gain access to their experience. This means they’ll help you navigate the court system and can interpret forms, restrictions, and questions for you so you’re never grasping at straws for answers.
On your own, you lack the necessary experience to understand what’s going on both in and out of the courtroom. This can lead to confusion, and keeps you from being able to mount a defense to argue against the charges you’re facing.
Ultimately, you could end up facing more serious repercussions if you try to represent your case yourself.
2. You Have Other Responsibilities
Mounting a defense is time-consuming. You need to read up on the laws and find cases similar to yours to see what arguments you can make in your favor.
This can mean taking hours out of your day just to better understand what you’re up against.
You have other things to worry about. A DUI likely won’t keep you from having to go to work, taking care of your family, or completing the daily tasks you’re expected to perform. Mounting your defense on top of taking care of those responsibilities can feel overwhelming.
Hiring an attorney means you’re able to give your daily responsibilities your full attention. They’ll handle the prep-work for you so you can focus on doing the things you have to do.
3. Your Reputation Won’t Precede You
Attorneys work hard to build their reputation, and that reputation helps in the courtroom. You might end up with a lesser sentence, fine, or other consequence when you work with an experienced attorney.
This is because they’ve won cases similar to yours and have the experience to back up their claims.
When you represent yourself, your reputation won’t matter an ounce in the courtroom. Prosecutors will see you as nothing more than someone convicted of a DUI. They won’t feel intimidated by your lack of experience representing cases or your knowledge of the law, no matter how extensive it is.
With an experienced attorney, you’re able to leverage their experience and reputation in the courtroom. People will be more likely to take their arguments seriously and will consider their opinions more heavily than they would if you represent yourself.
4. You Risk Missing Deadlines
With just about every court case, there are deadlines you’re expected to adhere to. When you’re representing yourself, you may not remember those deadlines or know about them in the first place.
With an experienced DUI attorney, you’ll have someone on-hand to hold you accountable and make sure things get submitted on time. This can help you avoid fines and makes you look more professional.
5. Your Emotions Could Get the Best of You
When you represent yourself, you’re more likely to give in to your emotions. It’s normal. After all, it’s your reputation on the line.
Unfortunately, emotional outbursts can hurt your case and end up getting you in trouble with the court.
When you work with an attorney, they’ll be able to coach you through the process and can help you formulate responses that don’t make you look guiltier than you are.
6. You Lack the Network
Expert witnesses get called to court all the time to show that certain tests or procedures just aren’t accurate. Unless you have a large network of industry-leading professionals at your disposal, you’ll find it tough to get in touch with expert witnesses on your own.
Attorneys work with these individuals every month. They know who to contact for different types of cases and can help you find an expert that will make your case look better.
Without their help, you could miss out on valuable resources that could lead to your charges getting lessened or dismissed by the court.
7. You Could Say Something You’ll Regret
Attorneys know how to mount arguments that paint you in a better light, even if you’re guilty. When you represent yourself, there’s a chance that you might say something you’ll regret.
The judge and the prosecutors will get to ask you questions. This is the case even if you’re working with an experienced attorney.
If you’re representing yourself, you’ll have to pay close attention to the types of questions they’re asking you. If they’re out of line or trying to get you to admit your guilt, it’s your responsibility to notice those questions and call them on it.
If you answer them honestly (as you’re legally bound to do), you could end up saying something that makes you look guiltier than you are. The last thing you want to do is say something that makes it easier for the court to convict you and give you the harshest punishment possible.
When you work with an attorney, they can help prevent those leading questions and could end up getting your charges reduced.
Hire the Right DUI Attorney
Representing yourself is always an option but doing so may not be in your best interest. At best, you’ll end up facing the minimum required sentence for your DUI charges. At worst, you could end up facing significant fines and jail time.
Hiring the right DUI attorney will help you mount a solid defense and argue your case in court.
If you’ve gotten charged with a DUI, don’t try to represent yourself in court. Contact our team and schedule a free consultation. We’ll help you mount a defense and preserve your reputation, whether it’s your first offense or you’ve gone through the process in the past.