Do I Really Need a DUI Attorney?

Once you have been arrested for a DUI in the State of Utah, your life gets a lot more complicated. In some cases, those complications can last for months, if not years. At a bare minimum, if you plead or are found guilty, you’re going to be facing court imposed fines and fees. In addition, you’re looking at a suspension of your driver’s license, a mandatory alcohol education program, and the possible imposition of an ignition interlock device in order to drive.

Despite the hefty financial and social costs of all of these penalties, some people still wonder if they really need a lawyer to defend them against the DUI charges. Family members and friends tell them second- and third-hand stories about how their best friend’s second cousin got off scot-free without the help of a lawyer. They don’t stop to consider if these stories are actually true or if the facts of that case bear any similarity to the facts surrounding their own arrest. It’s almost as if they think they can change the outcome of one bad decision – drinking and driving – with another bad decision, representing themselves.

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI there’s only one thing that you have to remember – operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is a crime in the State of Utah. It’s a crime that the prosecutor bringing the charges against you takes seriously. It’s a crime that the judge hearing your case takes seriously. That means that it’s a crime you need to take seriously as well.

The only thing that you accomplish by not taking the criminal charges against you seriously is raising the odds that your life will get even more complicated than it is otherwise. Are you willing to risk your hard-earned money, your driver’s license, and even your freedom on an anecdotal story? The bottom line is that you need a DUI defense lawyer representing your interests in your DUI case, and here are two great reasons to hire one.

A Lawyer is Your Advocate in the Utah Criminal Justice System

As we just discussed, DUI is a crime. When you’re accused of committing a crime, your case and the penalty that may be imposed if you’re found guilty are decided by the Utah Criminal Justice System. Many people believe that the primary purpose of any criminal justice system is to dispense justice. That is a misconception. The primary purpose of a criminal justice system is to deal with the immense caseload that it faces in any given year. Think of the criminal justice system as vast and efficient machine. New cases go in one end and disposed cases come out the other end. Along the way, various outcomes are dispensed to the people charged with the crimes that make up those cases. Whether the outcome you receive is largely positive or largely negative depends upon how well you, or your representative, understand the system.

In 2015, over 115,000 people were arrested for various crimes in the State of Utah. Nearly 9,000 of those arrests were for driving under the influence. These figures demonstrate that not only were there many criminal cases in Utah’s courts, there were also many DUI cases. In fact, there were almost 25 new DUI arrests every day in 2015.

The sheer number of cases means that the prosecutor in your case is going to be a Utah DUI professional. He or she will have dozens and dozens of pending DUI cases assigned to them at any given point in time. The only thing that they will know better than the law is how the system works. They will have a very real interest in moving cases through that system as quickly as possible. Without an attorney, these facts are going to negatively affect you in two ways:

First, on your own, you can never hope to match the prosecutor’s experience, knowledge, and skill. When you walk into the courtroom, you are on their home turf. That courtroom is their office and you are going to be facing them without any real knowledge of the law, or how this particular game is played. They won’t go easy on you simply because you decided to show up without a lawyer. You are just one of a multitude of cases. This brings us to the second negative impact.

Acting as your own legal representative, your voice will be not be heard because of the number of cases involved. Any mitigating factors or valid defenses you may legitimately have will likely go unnoticed because you lack the skill and experience needed to bring them to the court’s attention. Without those mitigating factors and defenses, the penalty you face could be exceedingly harsh.

An experienced Utah DUI attorney has the skills and experience that you lack. They’ll be a specialist in how to navigate the system, avoiding pitfalls and traps you know nothing about. They will leverage their experience and knowledge to obtain the best possible result given your situation.

Trying to Represent Yourself Can Be an Expensive Decision

The average DUI in the State of Utah is an expensive proposition. The fines and fees involved can easily cost several thousand dollars. The secondary costs only make it worse. Let’s take a look at how much of your money is actually at stake.

  • Court Costs – A standard DUI in the State of Utah is a Class B misdemeanor. This means that a first time offense carries a minimum fine of $700 plus surcharge. The surcharge is usually assessed at 90% of the fine. So at the absolute minimum, you will pay a fine of $700 plus about $700 for the surcharge, for a total of $1400, and that is at the very minimum.
  • Impound Fees – When you were pulled over and arrested for DUI, your vehicle was likely towed and impounded. You will have to pay the towing and impound fees which can vary with the place of impound. You will also have to pay the State of Utah $400 as a DUI impound release fee. With the towing and impound fees, and taxes, it will cost you anywhere from $800 to $1000 to get your vehicle back.
  • Attorney Costs – You may choose to represent yourself or take your chances with a public defense lawyer. These are fraught with risk. We recommend hiring a DUI attorney who is well versed in the law and procedures involved in a Utah DUI arrest. The fees paid to your attorney will range from $1000 up to $10000 or more, depending on the lawyer’s experience and how complicated the case is.
  • Alcohol Treatment and DUI School – A first offense in the state of Utah still requires you to enroll in a drug or alcohol treatment program. You will pay for the cost for this treatment, which will run you several hundred dollars.
  • Driver’s License Fees – First, your license will be suspended. After you have completed the suspension period, you will pay at least $125 to reinstate your driver’s license. You may also need to pay for an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) that will require you to take and pass a breathalyzer test before your key will turn in your ignition and your car will start. The cost for this device runs around $100 for installation, and you’ll pay a monthly rental fee of right around $75-$100. Over the course of 18 months you can expect to pay over $1400.

As you can see, the fines and fees involved in the average DUI can quickly add up to an imposing amount. Why gamble with your hard-earned money? An experienced DUI attorney in Utah can work to prove your innocence. They can also work to reduce or eliminate many fines and fees, should you plead or be found guilty.

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