You don’t have to have a lawyer to represent you on a DWI charge. You can always represent yourself, however you do so at your own peril. There are several good reasons why hiring a lawyer is a good idea.
1. An attorney can make the process much easier. You will not have to worry about the mechanics of the process. Your attorney will help you find the right courthouse, keep up with your court dates, and generally make sure you are in the right place at the right time.
2. Your attorney will help make sure you get your temporary drivers license secured. This can be tricky. You have to send in your official request for an administrative hearing to the state within 7 days of your arrest. You have to attend a hearing to determine what kind of temporary license you qualify for. You may have to have an interlock device installed in your vehicle. These issues are complicated, but an attorney can help you through the process.
3. There may be a way to WIN your case. Only an experienced attorney can spot an issue that could ultimately result in you being found not guilty of the charge. Police error is the number one reason for a DWI to get thrown out of court. Only an experienced lawyer will be in a position to find those errors and bring them to the courts attention.
4. An attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to reach a plea bargain that would be better than you might get when representing yourself. In many courts (like Fayetteville District Court) jail time is becoming standard on DWI cases. Even for 1st time offenders it is not uncommon for the prosecutor to offer 1 or 2 days in the Washington County Jail. A good lawyer can find ways around jail time offers. A good lawyer can also help keep fines and court costs to a minimum. Money your lawyer saves you here help offset any attorney fees you had to to pay him/her up front.
5. Your lawyer can help you make sure you understand what to do after your DWI to get your drivers license reinstated and get your fines and court costs paid off. A missed step could result in more trouble with the court.
The cost of a lawyer varies for the charge of DWI. Better lawyers charge more. In Fayetteville, Arkansas a typical legal fee on a DWI 1 can be anywhere from $750 – $1500, however if there are aggravating factors like a bad car wreck you can expect to pay more depending on the severity of the case. When you pay for an attorney you are paying for a service. You are paying for someone who will take the hassle out of the process and be a watchdog over your constitutional rights. You might be able to get through the process alone, but a good lawyer is well worth the cost.