A recent email inspired this article. The writer was seeking DUI advice, but expressed an interest in handling the case without DUI lawyer, or any lawyer, for that matter. Admittedly, my first thought was along the lines of then what are you contacting us for? We’re DUI lawyers; we get hired to handle cases. I imagined someone calling a heating and cooling company and saying “How do I replace my water heater without having to hire you?” As I thought about it, though, I became concerned about the huge risk this person was facing, more than anything else.
Here’s the actual message that was left: “I got an OWI on Friday. The cop said it’s my first offense. I’m most likely good without a lawyer but I’d like advice please.” The big issue here is that this person – and nobody facing any kind of DUI or criminal charge – is “good” without a lawyer. Even a legal aid clinic would decline just emailing someone advice. In fact, when a person is adamant about representing themselves in a criminal proceeding, courts will almost always appoint a lawyer to at least sit with them as “stand-by” counsel.
As we’ll see, there is a lot of truth in the old saying that “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” To be sure, the real risk (especially in a 1st offense DUI) of handling one’s own case is NOT getting locked up in jail for any extended period of time. That’s almost certainly no going to happen. Instead, the big worry is that a person may walk into a conviction that could be avoided, or otherwise miss out on a much more favorable outcome that could be had if the case was properly handled by a DUI lawyer.