A DUI arrest is not like other traffic violations. If you get a speeding ticket, you may just want to handle it yourself. But when you're facing a DUI, you may want to think again before trying to go through it on your own. If you've never had a lawyer before, you may be unsure if you should get a public defender or hire an attorney who exclusively handles DUI cases. Before you make this important decision, there are some important things to consider.
Public Defender or DUI Lawyer
After you are arrested by the police on suspicion of driving under the influence, you will soon be appearing before a judge during a procedure called an arraignment. This is where the state will read out the specific charges against you. The judge may ask if you have a lawyer, and if you want one. If you want to try and get a public defender (PD), you may say so. But before you get a public defender assigned, you will have to apply for one.
Not everyone can get a public defender. Most people do not meet the qualifications to get a public defender. A public defender is provided for people who are considered indigent. You will have to meet the requirements under the federal poverty guidelines. As part of this, you'll have to detail your finances and assets, including your job, employer, salary, vehicles owned, property owned, bank accounts, and how many children you have. Lying about your finances may lead to additional criminal charges.
After providing your personal and financial information, you'll have to pay the $50 application fee, and wait for approval from the state. Alternatively, if you hire a DUI lawyer, they will immediately be able to come to your side. Your DUI lawyer can come to the arraignment so you won't have to answer any questions without knowing the repercussions of what your answers may mean.
If you do get a public defender, you'll still have to deal with your license suspension. Your license suspension is an administrative matter that a public defender can't help you with. While they can defend you through the criminal trial, they won't be able to represent you so that you can keep your license.
After a DUI arrest in Georgia, the Department of Driver Services will administratively suspend you license after 30 days. The only way to fight this is to request an ALS hearing within 30 days after your arrest. After that, the suspension will be postponed until the hearing. At the hearing, your DUI lawyer can present evidence and argue your case to keep your license to drive. If you don't lose your driving privileges in the first place, you won't have to pay to get them back or worry about a limited driver's permit.
Once it comes to your criminal trial, it may be harder to get ahold of your public defender than a private DUI lawyer. Many public defenders handle a heavy caseload, with multiple cases at once in a variety of legal proceedings. A public defender may be handling your DUI at the same time as a domestic violence case, a drug trafficking case, and a vandalism case.
If you opt for an Atlanta DUI lawyer, they should be available for you 24/7. Anytime you have a question or a concern, you shouldn't have to wait until the next business day to get a response.
You deserve a DUI attorney who exclusively represents people facing a DUI. They'll be fully experienced in all aspects of a DUI case, and even be familiar with the judges, prosecutors and police officers in your case. They will be aware of all the latest developments in DUI law, and DUI police tactics.
DUI Defense Lawyer
A DUI conviction can be expensive, with all the fines, DUI school, and higher insurance rates. Make sure you understand the differences between a public defender and an Atlanta DUI attorney before you decide who will represent you in court. Your DUI lawyer will file for an ALS hearing, and represent you at both the license suspension hearing, and during the criminal trial. If you have been charged with a DUI anywhere in Georgia, give Lawson and Berry a call, so you can keep your license and stay out of jail.