The entire DUI experience can be both embarrassing and confusing. Not only are you paraded around on the side of the road like a drunk person, but after you get arrested, the police don't give you much information on what you should do next. For most people arrested for a DUI, it is their first experience in a police station. How are you supposed to know what an arraignment is, when you can call a lawyer, if a lawyer will be appointed for you, and how the criminal charge is separate from your license suspension hearing?
The first thing you may want to do after an arrest for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is consider a lawyer. You may be able to handle dealing with a parking ticket on your own, but a DUI case can involve legal experts, chemical testing, field sobriety test guidelines. Having a lawyer will help you navigate the legal process. But what kind of lawyer should you chose? A public defender? A general lawyer? Or an Atlanta DUI lawyer who exclusively handles DUI cases?
Can you get a public defender for your DUI?
The short answer is: it depends. You may recall from the police statement at the time of your arrest, or from countless police television dramas the Miranda Rights. This includes advising a person under arrest that if they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed. But not everyone is eligible for a public defender, also known as a PD. There are specific requirements for whether you can have a PD appointed, primarily based on your income level.
During the arraignment, when the charges are read to you in court, the judge may ask whether you have a lawyer, or if you want one appointed. Getting a public defender to stand with you in court will not automatically happen. You will have to be approved first. This involves giving the court information about your job, your employer, your income, your family, savings, property owned, vehicles, and your debts. On top of this you may have to pay $50 to request a PD. If you meet the requirements for indigency according to the federal poverty guidelines, the judge may assign you a public defender.
Alternatively, if you hire a DUI lawyer, they will be able to be there in court with you for your arraignment, so you won't have to go through any of the legal process alone. A DUI defense lawyer can come to the jail where you are being held, even before the arraignment process, so you'll know what to expect going forward.
Atlanta DUI Cases
If you really can't afford an Atlanta DUI lawyer, a public defender may be your option. But if you can afford a DUI lawyer, you should think about the pros and cons of a public defender.
Public defenders are lawyers who have to go through the same requirements to be a lawyer just like any other attorney admitted to the State Bar of Georgia. For many law school graduates, a job with the public defender may be their first job out of law school, and gives them a lot of courtroom experience handling a variety of cases. Unfortunately, the job often involves heavy caseloads, and they may not have much time to devote to your phone calls, emails, or questions about your case.
With a public defender, you also don't get to choose who will represent you in your DUI case. A PD will be appointed to you. If you don't like your PD, it may be very difficult to get the court to assign you a different public defender. With a private DUI lawyer, you get to pick who will represent you. You can shop around, ask the lawyers any questions you want, to make sure they have the experience, the training and dedication to help you through this difficult time, to find someone who will be available anytime you have a question, day or night.
Administrative License Suspension Hearing
One of the most confusing parts of a DUI arrest for most people is how their license gets automatically suspended even if they have not' been found guilty. This is because an administrative license suspension (ALS) is not part of the criminal proceeding, but is an administrative process that goes through the Georgia Department of Driver Services. After a DUI, your license is taken away, and you are given a temporary permit. This says it is good for 30 days, but you don't have 30 days to wait if you want to challenge the suspension. You only have 10 days after a DUI arrest to request a hearing.
An ALS hearing is separate and distinct from the criminal process. If your have a public defender, they won't represent you at the ALS hearing. You'll have to hire a separate lawyer for that part if you want to fight your suspension. Many lawyers are unfamiliar with the ALS hearing. However, if you get an Atlanta DUI lawyer, they will not only show up at your arraignment, and defend you during your criminal trial, they will also defend your right to drive at an ALS hearing. A DUI lawyer will even make sure you get a hearing by sending in a 10-day hearing request to make sure you don't lose your chance to hold onto your driving privileges.
Georgia DUI Legal Defense
As an experienced DUI lawyer, who exclusively represents clients charged with drinking and driving and DUIs, I understand the serious penalties at stake. I will be able to 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.