The process of getting arrested for a DUI can be a very confusing experience. What happens next? Who should I call? Will I lose my license? Do I need a lawyer? These may be some of the questions running through your head. Since a DUI has so many possible penalties, you may want to have a lawyer to help you through the process, so you can fight the criminal charges and keep your license to drive. But how do you know whether you should hire a private attorney or try and get a public defender?
After a DUI may be the first time you have to consider hiring a lawyer. However, there are some major differences between a private Atlanta DUI lawyer and a public defender, especially in a DUI case. It may all start at the arraignment. This is where you first go before the judge and the criminal charges are formally read aloud. The judge may ask you whether you have a lawyer, or if you want to try to get a public defender. If you want a public defender, you'll first have to qualify. If you hire a DUI lawyer, they can respond immediately, and can even show up to your arraignment so you don't have to go through any of this alone.
Applying for a Public Defender
Before you will be assigned a public defender, you will have to meet the financial requirements to show that you cannot afford a lawyer. This is based on the federal poverty guidelines. You will have to apply for services detailing your employment status, employer, net income, and provide information on benefits received, children, and vehicles or property you own. You'll have to pay a $50 application fee, which can be waived in some cases.
After signing your application, they will be reviewed to see if you qualify as indigent. If they want more information, they may ask for bank records or a copy of employment check stubs. They may also try and contact a probation officer, the Office of Child Support Enforcement, or even come by to look at your residence or business.
If you qualify, then you will be assigned a public defender. You won't get to pick your lawyer, and it may be very difficult to try and change you public defender later on. You may get an experienced lawyer, or you may get someone who just graduated from law school. You may get a lawyer who has handled dozens of DUI cases, or you may get someone who has never had a DUI case.
However, if you want a private DUI lawyer, you can makes sure they have the experience, dedication, and DUI training that you are looking for before you decide to have them represent you. You can look for someone who exclusively handles DUI cases, so you can be confident that they will be able to help you all the way through your case. An Atlanta DUI lawyer with experience representing people charged with driving under the influence will be familiar with the people involved in your case, including the prosecutor, judge and even the police officers.
Once you have your public defender, they may be difficult to get ahold of, especially at night or on the weekends. Your case may be one of a hundred assigned to the lawyer, and they may not have time to pick up the phone when you call. When deciding who to hire for you DUI, look for someone that is available for your questions any time, even on the weekend.
If you really fall under the federal poverty guidelines, a public defender may be your option. But they will not be able to represent you in an administrative license hearing, where your driver's license will be suspended.
After a DUI, the police will take away your license and give you a temporary driving permit that is only good for 30 days. After that your license will be suspended. The only way to stop an automatic suspension is formally request an administrative license suspension hearing (ALS hearing). But you only have 10 days to request the hearing. If you have a public defender for your court case, you'll have to file an ALS hearing request on your own, and try and fight your suspension on your own. A public defender can only handle your DUI case, and not the administrative suspension.
However, if you hire an Atlanta DUI lawyer, they will be able to file the 10-day letter for the hearing, and will appear for you during the ALS hearing, so you try to keep your license from being suspended. Keeping your driving privileges will make a DUI less painful, and you can more easily go about your daily life.
If cost is the only thing keeping you from hiring an experienced Georgia DUI attorney, consider all the costs that will add up if you are convicted for drunk driving. Fines and fees could add up to more than a thousand dollars. On top of that, you'll be responsible for paying for DUI school and for any substance abuse evaluations. Car insurance premiums will likely go up, and may continue for years. You'll not only be out a lot of money, but you'll have to spend hours and hours doing community service, going to DUI school, attending any counseling sessions, and trying to get your license reinstated after a suspension.
Atlanta DUI Legal Defense
As an experienced DUI lawyer who exclusively represents clients charged with drinking and driving and DUIs, I understand the serious penalties you are facing. I will represent you at the license suspension hearing, and before any criminal court proceedings. You don't have to go through this alone, or with a lawyer who isn't there for you. I am available anytime, day or night, to talk to you about your case, so call me today.