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Can A DUI Case Be Defended Without An Attorney?

  • By: Mace J. Yampolsky, Esq.
  • Published: June 22, 2018

It would be a huge mistake to try to handle a DUI case without proper legal representation by an attorney
who knew what they were doing. When clients talk to me about wanting to handle their DUI themselves, I
ask them whether they would operate on themselves, because if the answer to that is no, then they should
not try to handle their DUI case themselves either.

Hiring An Experienced DUI Professional Versus Handling The Case Oneself

Firstly, anyone should never represent themselves. There is a saying that if a lawyer represents himself he
has a fool for a client. Even a DUI lawyer, who was accused of driving under the influence, should hire
someone else, and that is what I would do. Thankfully, I have never been convicted of a DUI or been in
that situation.

It would not be a good idea to have a general lawyer, or even someone who handled criminal cases but
did not do DUIs, because there may be defenses and ways to handle the case that an experienced DUI
lawyer would know, whereas even an experienced criminal lawyer who did not have the expertise in a DUI
case may miss.

I tell my clients they should not go to a foot doctor for a heart problem, which is why they would need a
specialist.

Defending The Case Through A Public Defender

Regarding hiring a PD, or public defender, the good news is that public defenders are free, although the
bad news is the person would never know which public defender they would get. Some public defenders
may be good whereas some may be not so good.

The other reason why people really should not have a public defender handling their DUI case is because
the public defender would only represent them for the criminal case, not the DMV hearing which is a a
civil proceeding so the public defender would not represent them for that portion of the case.

I have often seen the public defender do a great job so the client was not convicted of a DUI, but then no
one went to the DMV hearing because the client did not realize the PD would not handle the DMV hearing
and they needed to go. Unfortunately, they ended up with their license revoked for 90 days, which could
have been avoided.

The public defender could not represent him on a civil case or the DMV hearing, which is considered an
administrative proceeding, not a criminal action. He did not get the opportunity to defend himself, which
is why it would generally not be a good idea to have a public defender represent you in a DUI case or if
they did have a public defender represent them, they could hire another experienced DUI lawyer to just
handle the DMV hearing. But it is usually better to have 1 lawyer handle the entire case.

About the Author Attorney Mace Yampolsky has been achieving successful outcomes
during pre-trial negotiations as well as in the courtroom, defending
clients on nearly all types of criminal defense cases.

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