A drunk driving charge can affect many areas of your life. Your driver’s license, criminal record, and even your employment potential can suffer because of a DUI charge. If you’re facing a DUI charge, you don’t have to fight it alone.
Our experienced Chicago DUI lawyers can help you fight the charges against you while protecting your rights and interests. Having our team of experienced DUI attorneys could be the difference between getting back to your normal life and facing the ramifications of a DUI conviction. Here are some good questions to ask a DUI lawyer.
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Will a Lawyer Help My DUI?
An attorney could be the only person standing between you and severe punishment for a crime that you might have not even committed. If you only had a drink or two, you may think that the court will have leniency in your case. That’s not true; the court will pursue the harshest punishment possible.
A knowledgeable DUI lawyer can prevent the worst from happening. An experienced DUI attorney can even have your DUI charges dismissed under certain circumstances. A lawyer will look for errors in:
Whether you have been arrested for driving with a high blood alcohol content (BAC) or arrested for being too intoxicated to operate a vehicle safely, the court system treats DUI charges very seriously. DUI penalties are two-fold: both criminal and administrative charges can lead to license suspension, fines, and a jail term.
An experienced attorney can help you understand the law, the facts of your DUI case, and any potential defenses available to you.
Unfortunately, finding the right attorney to help with your case can be daunting. Don’t be pressured to hire the first defense attorney you meet. Instead, interview many attorneys and compare. And be sure to look up your potential DUI attorney on the Illinois state bar association website.
When looking for a good DUI attorney, consider the following list of questions:
Background. One of the most crucial sets of questions to ask your lawyer concerns their background. Here are few questions you should ask your DUI attorney to find out about their experience:
How long have been working with DUI clients? How many DUI cases do you handle in a month?
How regularly do you take cases to trial?
Do you know the prosecutor in my case? Do you practice in my county?
How many DUI cases have you been able to get reduced to a wet reckless or an outright dismissal?
Special training. Many DUI attorneys have specialized training or advanced training in DUI law. You may ask:
Have you taken the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Instructor and/or Student Standardized Field Sobriety Courses?
Fees. You want to know how much your lawyer will charge you as soon as possible. So, ask prospective DUI attorneys about their payment options and how often, and under what circumstances, you will be billed. Many attorneys offer a free initial consultation, but be sure to clarify the payment terms before your first meeting. Also, ask the following questions:
Besides the standard fee, are there any additional fees I will need to pay?
What forms of payment do you accept?
Outcome. A DUI attorney can’t guarantee the outcome of your case, however, an experienced attorney can predict an outcome based on the unique facts of your DUI case, their training, and experience with DUI law. Thus, ask your attorney these questions:
Is a plea bargain an option? How about motions, such as a pre-trial motion to suppress evidence?
What benefits me and what works against me?
Should I go to trial?
How Bad is a First Offense DUI?
A first DUI offense is categorized as a misdemeanor, and a conviction could mean up to six months in jail. However, the sentence could be longer if there are aggravating circumstances. But in most cases, first-time DUI offenders serve shorter jail sentences and spend the rest of their time performing community service or on probation. Also, for a first-time DUI offense, you could be looking at fines of up to $2,500 in Illinois.
What Can a DUI Get Reduced To?
Often, DUI cases are resolved through plea bargaining. This means that the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest to a criminal charge in exchange for leniency from the prosecutor. A DUI plea bargain may involve the defendant pleading guilty to a DUI charge in exchange for the prosecutor, agreeing to fines and jail time that is less than the allowable maximum.
Other times, a plea bargain involves the prosecutor dismissing the DUI charge and the defendant pleading for a less serious offense, such as a plea deal for a reckless driving charge, which is also called a “wet reckless.”
Should You Plead Guilty to a DUI?
For defendants, there’s typically no benefit to pleading guilty at the first court appearance. Normally, the plea deals the prosecutor offers on the first day are the same or worse than plea deals that come later. So, it’s best to plead not guilty initially and get a new court date a few weeks out.
This additional time allows your attorney to review the prosecution’s evidence and come up with a defense strategy. Even if you decide to take a plea deal later, this investment of time by your DUI lawyer often pays off. With a better understanding of the facts of your case and some legal research, your lawyer may get you a better deal by identifying problems with the prosecution’s case and potential defenses to reduce the charges.
How Much Does Insurance Rates Go Up After DUI?
A DUI charge is a serious offense. Often, insurance companies consider DUI offenders as high-risk drivers and, thus, more expensive to insure. Therefore, DUI insurance costs are higher. On the lower end of the spectrum, you can expect your annual full coverage premium to go up around $800 every year, on average. And on the higher end, your insurance costs can jump as much as $3,000 per year.
However, the penalty varies based on your insurance provider, and your previous insurance premium. Also, a DUI conviction in Illinois will remain on your driving record for life.
How Much Should I Pay for a DUI Lawyer?
When entering a plea deal, a DUI attorney usually costs anywhere between $700 and $1,500. However, if your case ends up going to trial, the associated costs with this legal process range between $1,500 and $4,00 on average, or as costly as $10,000 for extreme cases.
Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer for First DUI?
A first-offense DUI charge is typically a misdemeanor, and many courts hand down a standard sentence. If you were driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs and there’s strong evidence to back that up, including elevated blood alcohol content (BAC), witnesses stating you were driving erratically, failed field sobriety tests, and more--most people choose to plead guilty. In such cases, a lawyer might not do much for you.
However, if there are facts that might increase your punishment, such as an accident or an extremely high BAC, or aspects that may reduce your penalties, such as procedural issues during your arrest, you should hire a DUI lawyer.
If you aren’t sure, an experienced lawyer can help you recognize these facts and help you come up with a solid defense strategy, including representing you at trial if need be.
How Can I Beat a DUI Without a lawyer?
Data from the CDC shows that someone dies every 50 minutes because of drunk driving. Across the U.S., driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs causes approximately one out of every three traffic deaths. As of Dec. 29, 4,801 arrests were made for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2020 in Illinois. Hence, police and prosecutors crack hard on alleged DUI offenders.
If you’re facing a DUI charge, you might consider fighting the charge yourself, without the help of an attorney. However, before proceeding alone, you must understand the magnitude of that decision and your chances of failure or success without a DUI attorney. You might not have previous experience with the court system, but the outcome of your DUI case can have a tremendous impact on your future.
Often, DUI offenders can find faults in their arrest. There are many factors you should consider when compiling your legal argument. One of the best ways to beat a DUI charge is to find any police errors or mistakes that can get your charges reduced or dismissed. These errors include:
No probable cause for your traffic stop.
The police didn't inform you about your rights before the DUI arrest.
The breathalyzer was faulty.
Inaccurate field sobriety tests.
Choosing to fight a DUI charge without a lawyer is a bad idea. At the very least, it’s crucial to consult with a knowledgeable lawyer before embarking on this legal battle alone.
Call Our Chicago DUI attorneys Today for Legal Advice!
Our Chicago criminal defense lawyers have helped many clients confront their DUI charges successfully, and we can help you, too. At Ktenas Law, we offer the quality legal counsel you need during this stressful time, and we’re passionate about protecting your rights and fighting to reduce the penalties you’re facing.
To schedule a free initial consultation, call our office at (312) 756-8652, or chat with us online to learn how we can help.