If you are facing a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in Arizona, you have an important decision to make: Should you hire a lawyer to represent you?
For most people, this question comes down to cost. It costs money to hire a lawyer, and paying a lawyer’s legal fees might not seem worth it (especially if you think you are guilty).
Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Try to Handle Your Arizona DUI Case Pro Se
But, the reality is that a DUI conviction in Arizona can be incredibly costly. Not only can you face thousands of dollars in fees, fines, and surcharges, but you can also lose your license—and potentially even end up in jail. Then, there are the collateral consequences. With a DUI conviction on your permanent record, you will face additional costs and challenges in many aspects of your day-to-day life.
In short, if you are thinking about trying to handle your case pro se, the money you save by not hiring a lawyer will almost certainly pale in comparison to the consequences you will face as a result of not having legal representation. Here are some more reasons not to try to handle your Arizona DUI case on your own:
1. The Judge Won’t Go Easy On You Because You Are Pro Se
Many people assume that the judge will go easy on them if they don’t have a lawyer. This is not the case. Regardless of whether you hire a lawyer, the judge will treat you just like everyone else who comes into court with a DUI. If you can’t prevent the prosecutor from proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be convicted, and you will be sentenced in accordance with Arizona law.
2. The Prosecutor Will Be Working to Secure a Conviction
Speaking of the prosecutor, he or she will be working hard to secure a conviction. Prosecutors get paid to win guilty verdicts in court, and cases involving unrepresented defendants are low-hanging fruit. The prosecutor won’t go easy on you either—if anything, you can expect the prosecutor to go full steam ahead to secure a conviction at trial.
3. You Need to Know What Defenses You Have Available
While there are several potential defenses to DUI charges in Arizona, the defenses you have available depend on the facts of your case. To represent yourself effectively in court, you need to know which defenses you can assert. You also need to know how to assert them effectively using the evidence (or lack thereof) that is available.
4. You Need to Know What “Defenses” Don’t Actually Work
Just as there are several potential defenses to DUI charges in Arizona, there are also several “defenses” that don’t actually work. Many people have misconceptions about how they can fight their DUI charges—largely based on what they have seen on the Internet and TV. If you assert any of these “defenses,” not only will they be ineffective, but you could also end up inadvertently admitting to your DUI.
5. You Need to Make an Informed Decision About Whether to Seek a Plea Deal
If it is unrealistic to expect that you will be able to avoid a conviction at trial, your best option may be to seek a plea deal. However, if you have strong defenses to your DUI charge, then seeking a plea deal could mean facing unnecessary consequences. To determine whether it makes sense to seek a plea, you need to know what evidence the prosecution has in its possession, you need to know what defenses you have available, and you need to be able to realistically assess how your case will play out in court.
6. If It Makes Sense to Seek a Plea Deal, You Need to Be Able to Negotiate Effectively
If it makes sense to seek a plea deal, you need to be able to negotiate effectively. Prosecutors won’t go easy on you here, either. Even if they are willing to entertain plea negotiations (which is less likely when you are handling your case pro se), they will leverage their superior knowledge and experience to make sure the deal is as favorable for the government as possible. While an experienced defense lawyer will have insights into the type of deal you should be willing to accept, you won’t have these insights on your own.
7. You Need to Be Able to Identify (and Raise) Issues with the Police and Prosecutors’ Conduct
Police officers and prosecutors make mistakes. When their mistakes amount to violations and defendants’ constitutional rights, they can provide strong defenses in court. For example, if the police stopped you illegally, then all of the government’s evidence against you could be inadmissible under the Fourth Amendment. But, asserting these types of defenses requires a thorough understanding of constitutional law.
8. Mistakes During Your DUI Case Could Lead to More Adverse Consequences
If you try to represent yourself and make mistakes along the way, your mistakes could lead to even more adverse consequences. For example, one of the most common mistakes defendants make is failing to appear. If you miss a court date during your DUI case, your failure to appear could result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest.
9. There Are No Second Chances
In criminal court, there are no second chances. While there is an appellate system, an appeal is not a “do over.” If you get convicted and sentenced—even if you shouldn’t have—you will most likely have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life.
10. The Risks Aren’t Worth It
Finally, to recap what we touched on initially, the risks of trying to handle your DUI case on your own simply aren’t worth it. Hiring a lawyer to protect you is far less costly than living with the unmitigated lifetime costs of a DUI conviction. Regardless of the facts of your case, there are defenses an experienced lawyer will be able to assert on your behalf; and, when your case is over, you will be glad you didn’t make a short-sighted mistake.
Contact the Arizona DUI Lawyers at The Weingart Firm
If you are facing a DUI charge in Arizona, we strongly encourage you to contact us for more information. Call 480-405-7922 or contact us online to speak with a DUI lawyer at The Weingart Firm.