First Offense DUI: Here’s What You Need to Know
Getting arrested for driving under the influence is a scary and nerve-wracking event, especially when it’s your first offense DUI. With many unknowns about to be thrown your way and uncertainty about your future, a DUI lawyer can help you navigate through this difficult process.
I personally work with you and help you understand what consequences, penalties, and offenses you may face for your first offense DUI, all while defending you.
With over 17 years of experience and 3,900+ DUIs defended, I know I am the right DUI attorney for you.
To get a head start in learning about what entails in a first offense DUI in Arizona, read below.
Table of Contents
- Penalties For A First-Offense Aggravated DUI In Arizona
- Penalties For A First And Second Offense Extreme DUI In Arizona
- Penalties For A First And Second Offense Super Extreme DUI In Arizona
- Consequences Of A First Offense DUI In Arizona
- In Arizona, Will Your Driver’s License Be Suspended for a First DUI Offense?
- Why Even a First-Offense DUI Needs to Be Strenuously Defended
- Should a First DUI be Taken Seriously?
- Potential Penalties for a First Offense DUI
- If It Is My First DUI, Won’t The Courts Go Easy On Me?
Penalties For A First-Offense Aggravated DUI In Arizona
Any third-offense DUI within 7 years of two previous or subsequent DUIs is considered an Aggravated DUI. Anyone with two or more DUIs in the last 7 years, who is now facing another DUI charge will be charged with an Aggravated DUI Felony charge. Moreover, any DUI in which the drivers license is suspended also results in a Felony Aggravated DUI.
An Aggravated DUI offense should never be taken lightly. It is a serious offense and requires the driver to appear in court. Additionally, driving with a minor in the vehicle while under the influence also results in a Felony Aggravated DUI charge.
Penalties for an Aggravated DUI in Arizona
An Aggravated DUI in Arizona carries a mandatory minimum of four months in prison in most circumstances. The prison sentence cannot be waived, and there are mandatory fines and fees of more than $4,500. The offender also has to do substance abuse screening, counseling, and treatment, which can cost hundreds of dollars, and person’s license can be suspended or revoked for up to 3 years. An Ignition Interlock Device will be required on any vehicle they operate, which can cost around $100 a month.
Drivers facing an Aggravated DUI in Arizona will also be required to obtain SR22 High Risk Insurance for several years, which is a special type of car insurance above-and-beyond the normal car insurance. An Aggravated DUI conviction can also lead to normal car insurance rates rising. All the penalties and consequences of an Aggravated DUI in Arizona are given as follows:
- Mandatory minimum of 4 months in prison
- Substance Abuse Screening, Counseling, and Treatment
- Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device for several years, at approximately $100 a month
- Driver’s license revoked for 3 years
- SR22 High Risk Insurance for at least 3 years
- Likely increase in Car Insurance Premiums
- Fines and fees in excess of $4,500
The driver facing an Aggravated DUI is also at a risk of losing their professional license, such as a doctor, nurse, or lawyer. Professionals with an SEC license, such as a real estate agent, government or military employee also risk losing their job if they are convicted of an Aggravated DUI. The driver also loses their right to vote and the right to own a gun.
Attorney Brian Sloan at the Law Offices of Brian D. Sloan has been defending and representing clients facing a DUI charge in Arizona since for the past 17+ years. If you are facing an Aggravated DUI charge in Arizona, seek professional legal counsel immediately by contacting his office at 480-900-0384 or 602-900-0384 for a Free Initial Consultation.
Penalties For A First And Second Offense Extreme DUI In Arizona
The state of Arizona takes a DUI charge very seriously. In Arizona, law enforcement are extremely aggressive about arresting anyone who might even slightly appear to be drunk or under the influence. This means anyone could be stopped and interrogated on suspicion of driving under the influence as the police is always eager and aggressive to arrest offenders.
First Offense Extreme DUI – BAC Level 0.15% Or More
Anyone caught driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.15% or higher in Arizona is charged with an Extreme DUI. A first offense Extreme DUI / Driving under the Influence charge in Arizona is considered a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Anyone accused of a first offense Extreme DUI charge in Arizona for the first time faces a number of penalties including:
- Minimum 30 days in jail – eligible for home detention after a minimum of 2 days
- Minimum fines and fees which come to at least $2,800
- Possible community service hours
- Alcohol Screening, Counseling, and Treatment
- Up to 5 years of probation
- Driver’s license Suspension
- Mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device on any vehicle operated
These penalties can be further enhanced if the driver’s blood alcohol level is 0.20% or more. This enhances the mandatory minimum jail sentence to 45 days, up to a maximum jail sentence of 6 months. A BAC between 0.150% to 0.199% carries a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail, whereas a BAC of 0.20% or more has a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 45 days, with the eligibility of home detention after a minimum of 3 days.
Second Offense Extreme DUI – BAC Level 0.15% Or More
A second offense Extreme DUI in Arizona carries the following penalties:
- Minimum 120 days in jail – eligible for home detention after a minimum of 24 days
- Minimum fines and fees which come to at least $3,700
- 30 hours of community service
- Mandatory alcohol Screening, Counseling, and Treatment
- 1 year driver’s license Revocation
- Mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device on any vehicle operated
Other factors like the driver’s previous convictions, and whether any minors were present in the vehicle at the time of arrest or not can aggravate a DUI charge, leading to serious consequences and higher fines. It can even create additional Felony of Misdemeanor offenses with their own set of punishments. Since Arizona is a no-tolerance state for driving under the influence, anyone can get arrested for a DUI, even if their blood alcohol content is less than the legal limit of 0.08%.
In order to avoid these consequences, it is important to get in touch with an experienced DUI Defense Attorney as the stakes are high. Choosing the right attorney will help you get through this difficult time. The attorney can also get the charges reduced or even dismissed, depending on the facts of the case. Call the Law Offices of Brian D. Sloan at 480-900-0384 or 602-900-0384 for a Free Initial Consultation if you are facing an Extreme DUI charge in Arizona.
Penalties For A First And Second Offense Super Extreme DUI In Arizona
When someone is arrested with a BAC of 0.20% or more in Arizona, they are charged with a Super Extreme DUI. A Super Extreme DUI carries harsher penalties and longer jail sentence as compared to a Regular DUI or an Extreme DUI offense in Arizona. Read on to know more about the penalties for a First Offense Super Extreme DUI conviction and a Second Offense Super Extreme DUI conviction in Arizona.
First Super Extreme DUI In Arizona – BAC 0.20% Or More
A First Offense Super Extreme DUI in Arizona carries with it heavy fines and fees, and jail sentence. Anyone caught driving a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.20% or more will face:
- 45 consecutive days in jail – eligible for home detention after a minimum of 3 days
- Fines and fees exceeding $3,200
- Jail costs and Home Detention monitoring fees
- Substance Abuse Screening, Counseling and Treatment
- Driver’s license suspension of 90 days to a year.
- Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device for at least 18 months
- Possible SR22 insurance for 3 years.
- Possible Increase in auto insurance rates
- Up to 5 years of probation
A Super Extreme DUI charge in Arizona can be further enhanced depending on the circumstances. For example, if there was a minor present in the vehicle at the time of arrest or if the driver was driving without a valid driver’s license, then the penalties are enhanced.
Second Super Extreme DUI In Arizona – BAC 0.20% Or More
A repeat offense Super Extreme DUI with a BAC of 0.20% or more within 84 months of any DUI/ DWI charge in Arizona is punishable by the following:
- Mandatory 180 days in jail. Home detention is eligible after a minimum of 36 days
- Fines and fees exceeding $4,600.
- Additional jail/home detention costs and monitoring fees
- Substance Abuse Screening, Counseling and Treatment
- Driver’s license revocation of at least 2 years, with the potential to get an Interlock Restricted License after 90 days
- Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device for at least 24 months
- SR22 insurance for at least 3 years.
- Likely Increase in auto insurance rates
- The offender may be ordered to attend a MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) Victim Impact Panel
As the consequences of a first time and second time Super Extreme DUI in Arizona are high, it is important to choose a highly skilled DUI Defense Attorney to defend your case. Call the Law Offices of Brian D. Sloan at 480-900-0384 or 602-900-0384 for a Free Initial Consultation if you are facing a Super Extreme DUI charge in Arizona.
Consequences Of A First Offense DUI In Arizona
According to Arizona law, driving or being in Actual Physical Control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, intoxicating liquor, and / or vapor releasing substances containing a toxic substance, or a combination of any aforementioned is considered illegal.
Although the law does punish driving while under the influence of a toxic substance, that is usually relegated to something like paint huffing, or doing ‘Whip-Its,” and rarely gets charged in Arizona. Far less than one percent of DUI cases solely involve ‘vapor releasing substances.’
Impaired driving laws in Arizona are defined under A.R.S. 28-1381. It prohibits anyone from driving while under the influence of any intoxicating substance if the individual is impaired, at least to the slightest degree by the use of that substance.
Undoubtedly, Arizona is one of the toughest states in the nation when it comes to its DUI laws. Below are some of the penalties you will be subjected to if you are a first time DUI offender:
Penalties for First Time DUI Offenders in Arizona
According to Arizona’s impaired driving laws, anyone found in control of a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08% or more, may be found guilty of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). An individual can also be charged with DUI if they are under the influence of drugs or any amount of alcohol that impairs them to the slightest degree. These can include illegal drugs, legal prescription medications, and some over-the-counter medications.
First-time offenders for DUI, with a BAC of 0.08% or more, is classified as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. In Arizona, first-time offenders are subject to the following penalties:
- Minimum one day jail sentence up to a maximum of 6 months (the minimum sentence is technically ten days where nine days may be suspended for completing counseling)
- Minimum fines and fees which comes to about $1,500
- Driver’s license suspension of 90 days, with the possibility of getting a restricted license after 30 days of no driving
- Ignition interlock for six months to one year if an alcohol offense
- Possible 5 years of probation
- Possible Community Restitution (Community Service) hours
- Alcohol Screening and Counseling
DUI Administrative and Criminal Penalties
The following penalties are classified as criminal or administrative penalties. Here’s what you should know about these DUI penalties in Arizona:
- Individuals arrested for a first offense DUI may face 90 days of administrative license suspension. As a crucial part of any DUI defense, the impending suspension has to be handled the correct way in order to potentially prevent SR22 High Risk Insurance for three years.
- DUI offenders in Arizona will be required to undergo mandatory screening for alcohol and/or substance abuse, and will likely be required to complete counseling and/or treatment.
- Fees, fines, and surcharges can amount to around $1,500.
Get Legal Help
Although Arizona statutes prohibit the reduction of a DUI/DWI to a lesser offense, DUI Defense Attorneys have significant room to negotiate a favorable plea bargain. For assistance, contact the Law Offices of Brian D. Sloan at 480-900-0384 or 602-900-0384 for a Free Initial Consultation.
In Arizona, Will Your Driver’s License Be Suspended for a First DUI Offense?
Interviewer: That’s good to know. To mention some other things that you probably are questioned on, for example, if someone’s arrested for DUI is there any way to avoid having their driver’s license suspended? People complain that they haven’t been convicted, so how can the state suspend their driver’s license? Can anything be done about it?
Per Arizona State Law, Your License Can be suspended Before You Are Convicted of DUI
Brian: Everyone who is suspected of driving under the influence, if they are given a blood, breath, or urine test and the officer suspects that they were driving under the influence, their license is suspended for 90 days. It’s called an Admin Per Se suspension.
Implied Consent Suspension: Driving Is a Privilege In Arizona, Not a Right
The government is allowed to do that even though the defendant has not been deemed guilty of anything. It basically comes down to driving is a privilege, not a right. So the government is not taking a right away from you, they’re taking a privilege away from you.
You Are Entitled to Request a Hearing to Challenge the Suspension
So their license is set for a 90-day suspension, starting 15 days after they were arrested in most situations. It is possible to challenge that. In the challenge, one basically says, I understand you arrested me and you believe that I was driving under the influence, but there is a legal or factual issue why a suspension is inappropriate.
You are entitled to a hearing, and I include that hearing as part of my representation. There is a very specific way of handling that hearing, and another person handling that matter, or an inexperienced attorney handling that matter, can end up making things worse, if the Motor Vehicle Division aspect is not handled the correct way.
Do You Need a Defense Attorney at the Hearing? Losing Your Challenge Comes With Potentially Expensive Consequences
If you ask for a hearing and it is not handled the correct way, you might be setting yourself up for having to get SR22 insurance for three years, where it could have otherwise been prevented. This is high-risk insurance, which can oftentimes be prevented, but only if the Motor Vehicle Division aspect of the case is handled properly.
So there are ways of challenging it, but I’ve had the case where I was able to get the DUI case dismissed but they still allege that my client refused the initial request for a breath test. Because they refused and because it’s part of a civil violation of refusing a requested blood and/or breath test, their license was suspended for a year.
Even though their conviction went away, the civil side of the suspension was enforced. I’m right in the middle of fighting that to the Court of Appeals saying that this is ridiculous to punish someone civilly when the criminal aspect has been dismissed and on a couple of other theories. It really is ridiculous, and there is a way to fight it. Case specific, it depends on if you want to fight it and how you want to fight it.
An Attorney May Help Delay the Onset of Your License Suspension
What I’ve been able to do most of the time if my client just isn’t willing or isn’t able to have their license taken away right now, I am able to delay the suspension by a couple of extra months. I do include that as far as my representation. I’m able to get them an extension so that basically they can keep driving for a couple of extra months before they may have to lose their license for 90 days
Why Even a First-Offense DUI Needs to Be Strenuously Defended
Interviewer: I just wanted to ask you about that. We talked briefly before, you talked about a second DUI being a second DUI whether your first one was a regular DUI or an extreme or a super extreme, or it doesn’t matter the level. So that tells me that people should treat a first DUI very seriously. This is because if they end up with a conviction, it’s really setting them up for much harsher penalties down the road.
They may have the bad luck or misfortune to have an extreme or a super extreme one, and now their penalties seem to be compounded tremendously. What would you say about that? Do you agree that it’s especially important to strenuously defend your first charge to avoid any conviction?
Brian: The first time is usually the one you want to fight the most. I’ve talked to many people who give up on their first one. Or they just go along with the plea agreement because that’s what their other private attorney or public defender pushed on them and they didn’t feel like continuing with the case.
Should a First DUI be Taken Seriously?
Absolutely. A lot of people think they can just handle this themselves and it is not a big deal because it was a first time DUI, so they think they will be let go because they are a good person and had never been in trouble before, which is just not the case.
Most people who go through the system are there on their first DUI, so the court and prosecutor would not take that into consideration and just dismiss the case because that is not how the system works. Many people who I have spoken to when they were on their second, third or fourth DUI have said that they just decided to walk in and plead guilty on the first one, when they actually had a good case.
Some people, because they decided to handle it themselves, or hired an attorney that didn’t know what they were doing, ended up in a much worse position due to their first case, that it lead to future problems, and future DUI charges, because the way the first one was resolved wasn’t handled correctly.
This was more prevalent when Drug DUI cases came with a one year license revocation and one year of Interlock. That all could have been prevented, but the person decided to handle things themselves, then later come to realize that they got themselves into a situation that was difficult to get themselves out of, and, sometimes, that lead to a new DUI charge, which was oftentimes a Felony at that point.
There is no harm in doing consultations with attorneys, because most attorneys offer free consultations. A person should always have legal assistance, whether it is through a private attorney or a public defender. They should not just give up and decide to take responsibility for something they may not be guilty of.
I have also talked to people after they had pled guilty to crimes they were not guilty of, simply because they did not want to deal with it and were thinking no one would really come down hard on them because they were a first time offender. A person should avail any opportunity to not have a DUI on their record and their best chance of having that happen would be to seek out the advice of people who are in these courts every day.
Should Someone Call Several Attorneys To Get A Consultation And An Estimate?
One of the first things someone should do after being arrested for a DUI is to do their research on available DUI attorneys. It would be important to note that not every attorney practices every area of the law, so a Criminal Attorney would not be the same as a DUI Attorney. It would be really important for someone who was charged with a DUI to have someone who knows what they are doing.
It would be a good idea to sit down in front of the computer and do research. There are certain websites that allow you to research different attorneys and to gather a lot of information before you have even made that first phone call. AVvo.com is an excellent resource, because it also allows the person to see what fields of the law different attorneys practice.
It would also be a good idea to talk to attorneys on the phone. Every attorney should be willing to at least do a free in-person consultation. A lot of attorneys are simply money based, so if they start talking about money right away, without the client asking, then that attorney might not necessarily be someone who would be concerned with the client’s well-being or concerned about the case. They are only concerned about getting paid. If anything went wrong, they would most likely drop the client while attempting to keep all the money that had already been paid.
The person might not necessarily want to meet with several different attorneys, and some attorneys will want to do phone consultations instead of in-person consultations, but it would be important to do research and find the right one. You should set up a consultation in-person or by phone, to discuss experience, focus on DUI Defense, how much the representation would cost, and what the payment schedule would be.
Be aware that some attorneys literally plan their representation around the idea that you will not be able to pay their fees in full, and they will end up withdrawing from your case, while keeping the money, doing little to no work, and then blaming you for not keeping up on their payment plan.
However, cheap attorneys are not necessarily bad and expensive attorneys are not necessarily good. The person would need the right attorney, so if they could afford the right attorney, they should go with them. It is important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after being arrested because there would be certain rights the person would end up giving up as time passed.
Should Someone Seriously Consider An Attorney If It Was Not Their First DUI?
A person would absolutely need to talk to an attorney. It could be a Felony or Misdemeanor charge on the second DUI. Sometimes the officer will put the case in a Misdemeanor court, but it will later be reviewed by the prosecutor, who wants to send it to Felony court. It might be possible to lock the case in as a Misdemeanor to prevent Felony charges, but only if the attorney can catch the issue soon after the arrest.
In Arizona, things get progressively worse as people get more and more DUIs under their belts: more jail time, a lot more fines and fees, the potential for prison, the potential for Felony charges and the potential for years of license revocation. While it is important for a first time offender to talk to an attorney, it would be extremely important for anyone who has any priors to talk to an attorney after being arrested.
An attorney can potentially save the person from months in jail, or years in prison, or thousands of dollars in fines and fees, so anyone with a prior DUI would really need to take advantage of attorneys who are willing to do free consultations and again, they would need to find the right attorney to represent them when they are facing the potential for much harsher penalties because this would not be their first time dealing with the court system and dealing with the DUI charge.
For more information on the Seriousness of a First DUI Offense, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling 480-900-0384 today.
Potential Penalties for a First Offense DUI
Interviewer: A first-time DUI, what are some of the consequences that someone may face to that?
There Are Fines Totaling Approximately $1600
Brian Sloan: On a first-time DUI, it kind of depends on what city you’re in. You’re going to get somewhere around $1,600 in fines and fees. The fines and fees don’t usually change. There are very few cities that will try and raise those fines and fees. Sixteen hundred dollars is about the minimum. Most people, no matter what, are going to pay close to the minimum fines and fees.
There Is the Potential of a Six Month Jail Sentence
What is still up in the air is how much time a person would do if they were convicted on the first time Regular DUI. They can get anywhere from one day in jail, up to six months in jail, but every person who is convicted of a DUI has to do at least do one day in jail.
Even though Arizona advertises, “Expect the max,” realistically, I can’t say that I’ve even seen anyone get the maximum sentence on a first-time Regular DUI. But technically, if the judge wanted to, they can give anywhere from one day in jail up to six months in jail on the first-time regular DUI.
Approximately Half of the Misdemeanor Courts Will Impose Probation
Interviewer: Would someone be sentenced to probation?
Brian Sloan: I’ll say about half of the Misdemeanor courts do not do probation. The other half do probation, but it is usually unsupervised probation, which is basically in place to insure that the person does not commit any other offenses and also to make sure that they have done their time in jail, that they’ve paid off their fines and fees and that they’ve done their counseling.
Interviewer: How long is that generally?
Brian Sloan: It can be up to five years. Half the courts don’t do any probation. The other half tend to do the maximum term of probation of five years, but when someone pays off their fines and fees, does their jail time, does their counseling, then the probation just ends.
All Convictions for DUI Carry a Mandatory Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device
Interviewer: What about situations where someone is required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle?
Brian Sloan: Everyone convicted of any sort of alcohol DUI is going to be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device placed on any vehicle they operate. It depends on what type of DUI you are convicted of. If you are convicted of a first-time regular DUI and there are no accidents and it is alcohol, then that person is required to have it on their vehicle for at least six months.
A Conviction for an Extreme or Super-Extreme DUI Will Entail the Device Be Installed for 18 Months
If a person is convicted of an Extreme or Super-Extreme Misdemeanor DUI, they are going to be required to have the Ignition Interlock Device on their vehicle for one year for an Extreme or for 18 months for a Super-Extreme.
If they are convicted of a Class 6 Aggravated DUI, that’s a felony, they are required to have the Ignition Interlock Device on any vehicle they operate for at least two years, but because of some provisions in the law, they may actually have it on longer to get the benefit of at least being able to drive.
If they are convicted of a Class 4 Aggravated DUI, they are going to be expected to have it on their vehicle for two years after going through a license revocation.
If It Is My First DUI, Won’t The Courts Go Easy On Me?
Anyone who is dealing with the court system, especially on a DUI case, needs to seriously consider hiring an attorney or at the very least do a free consultation. I offer free consultations, not everyone hires me. There are a lot of people that I talk to that I know simply can’t afford to hire a private attorney but they need some answers and I am happy to provide them answers. When you’re dealing with the first time DUI there are a couple of ways that things can go. It is possible to negotiate a DUI down to something like Reckless Driving. It is possible to get the case dismissed. It is possible to have the DUI set up so that it is the minimum sentence, and maybe then get a person credit for the time that they spent in custody so that they don’t have to do any additional days in jail.
I have seen the court treat people representing themselves different than people represented by an attorney and this used to be especially true in Scottsdale where two people with the exact same charges and even with the exact same blood test results, would have two completely different sentences based upon them repressing themselves or the other person being represented by a private attorney. Sometimes you could watch them actually take place in front of you where one person is unrepresented and goes in front of the judge and would get maybe 9 days in jail, where the next person being represented by a private attorney who knows what they are doing would go up there and maybe get a 2 days jail sentence on the same exact same charges and on the exact same blood alcohol content. So having an attorney who knows what they are doing, who knows how the law works, and knows all the provisions in the law, is extremely important if a person wants to save themselves money and jail time, and potentially save themselves from having a conviction on their record.
How Much Time Should I Take To Decide About An Attorney?
The majority of the people that I meet with after they spend about 30 minutes with me, they decide right away to sign up. There are some people that want to think about it and some people want to go and talk with other attorneys. That’s fine; I don’t put any pressure on anyone. If they want to take time to consider their options, that’s perfectly fine. People need to be secure; we are talking about a lot of money here. People need to know that they have the right attorney not only for the case, but the right attorney for themselves. There are some attorneys that are excellent attorneys but maybe there is a personality issue there between the client and the attorney. I have had clients call me to say they are not happy with their attorney and that they wanted to hire me and after finding out who the attorney is, I would hold that in high regard, and I try to convince the client that they should stick with the attorney they have.
They have already paid a lot of money, the attorney is an excellent attorney and maybe there is just a personal issue. Maybe they just need to work on that but most clients do sign up with me after meeting with me and after seeing all my awards and after I walk them through the system. I treat people different than the way a lot of other attorneys do. I treat my clients with respect. I do not try to scare them, and try to provide as much information as possible, and not hide the ball in hopes that you would then hire me so then I can help you after you have paid me. To this day, I hear from clients that they talked to other attorneys who didn’t want to tell them anything other than their fees, and if you hired them, then they would explain how the system works and what they would try to do. I think that is ridiculous. I try to help people when they first come in to meet with me, or talk with me on the phone, whether they are going to hire me or not.
What Are The Factors That Can Help Me To Retain The Best Possible Attorney?
It is just doing research, and pay attention to that contract. If there is a provision in there that talks about what will happen if you give them a bad review, there is a reason that that is in there, and they obviously get a lot clients wanting to leave them bad reviews.
There are some excellent high priced attorneys but there are also some very bad ones that I would never recommend to anyone. It is all about finding the right attorney for the right price based on the budget and based on the attorney’s experience and accomplishments.
If you cannot afford the best attorney and all you can afford is a low cost attorney, it is oftentimes better to go with the private attorney and not try to go at it alone, or go with a Public Defender. Some Public Defenders are very good; the problem is the way the system is set up. Public Defenders do not get a lot of money to represent someone, and they usually get paid the same amount whether the Public Defender does very little on the case, or whether they put in hundreds of hours. The Public Defender is likely getting paid the same amount of money; nonetheless, it is still better to go with a Public Defender than to try to represent yourself.
That is not to say that there are not some ‘true-believer’ Public Defenders that fight very hard for their clients, but just the way the system is set up, it does not really promote fighting hard for the clients and putting a lot of time and effort into representing them, due to the pay, and the number of clients they represent at one time. Also, Public Defenders do not assist their client on the license aspect of the case. They solely represent a person on the criminal side of things, not the Motor Vehicle Division side.