Tom Collins is the author of the blog Survive A DUI, a guide to getting through the ordeal of a DUI mentally, emotionally, and legally. Here he guest blogs to give the client-side perspective of working with an attorney to get through a DUI.
Being arrested for my DUI was devastating to say the least. Not just the ensuing legal fees, insurance hit, DUI classes, interlock, and everything to come with it.
But knowing that it was me versus the police, versus the court, and I didn’t have anyone on my side. Most people around me would have said, “if you don’t want a DUI, don’t drink and drive”, but I’ve witnessed them drink and drive countless times. It’s one of those things that nobody thinks it’s going to happen to them… until it does.
Most people don’t worry about themselves on the wrong end of the law. When it happens… they don’t have a plan. You see the police shows on TV, where somebody demands their lawyer… I didn’t have a lawyer! Who has a lawyer? I’ve never been in trouble before – why would I have a lawyer?
I found myself in despair, I found myself depressed, I found myself without anybody to turn to.
I didn’t know what to do.
More than the worry of having a worse punishment, more than the hope that I could somehow get off scot-free or with a wet reckless, I got a lawyer because I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what my options were, and the court certainly wasn’t helping.
I found myself staring at the ticket I was issued by the police. A traffic ticket? Is this all a DUI is? It has to be more than this! What’s going to happen to me? How will I get through this? Will I have to go to jail?
So many questions, nowhere to turn.
Sitting down with a lawyer for a consultation was the first time I felt like this wasn’t going to be the end of the world. So many late nights googling outrageous punishments, nightmares about worst-case scenarios, prayers going unanswered. Nothing had helped me, until I spoke with an expert.
I didn’t want to spend the money. I didn’t have the money. Where was I going to get the money without being able to drive?
“The first thing I want you to know is that eventually this all goes away. It looks like a lot right now, and it is, but it all goes away”
I heard those words and I felt… relief. It had been a long time since I had felt that way.
He guided me through what was going to happen and when, all the various outcomes of the case, what the police can and cannot do, why cases get thrown out (and, of course, mine was not likely to be thrown out), and how to take the steps to fix everything.
“You’re not going to jail. Even if you don’t hire me, you’re not going to jail. I know this courthouse, they like to get cases like yours out of the way quickly to get to the stuff that really matters. That’s in your favor.”
First time I had heard that anything was in my favor in days.
I had a ton of questions, he took his time and answered them. He gave me options and explained the pros and cons of them fully, making sure I knew what I was doing before I made any decision.
My lawyer didn’t get me out of this. My lawyer didn’t perform some incredible speech to a jury to make them only give me a wet reckless.
My lawyer was my guide.
I considered not hiring a lawyer. Money was an issue. My lawyer was willing to work with me, and the payment wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
It was worth it, because I don’t know what I would have done without one. I don’t know how to navigate the legal system. I don’t know what options are out there.
Every situation is different, I can’t tell you what to do. In your situation I would at least meet with a lawyer. Most give free face-to-face consultations. Ask them questions. Talk to them about other cases they’ve worked on. Get to understand the system.
When you need help, talk to an expert.
It starts making things better.