Did you just get arrested for a DUI? You’re probably getting a lot of unsolicited advice. Well-intentioned friends and relatives may be telling you how to plead and whether to hire a lawyer. You’re probably hearing about someone’s cousin’s friend, who is a bankruptcy lawyer, or how someone else’s lawyer did something amazing to keep a DUI off her record.
Some of these people may have great advice! But unless they’re actually a Montana DUI lawyer, I suggest you also talk to one of us. Even if you don’t end up hiring a DUI attorney, getting a free consultation — which we offer — can help you figure out your options. Here’s why you should talk to a Montana DUI defense lawyer:
1. Your Police Record and Future Are at Stake
Getting a DUI is scary on multiple levels. It can be an unpleasant awakening to a drinking problem, or it can be frightening because you’re innocent. It’s mostly intimidating because it has such long-term effects. In Montana, a DUI is on your record forever and cannot be taken off.
Having a misdemeanor or felony on your record can affect your chances of getting the job and apartment you want. A DUI can be expensive in terms of legal fees and car insurance if your carrier drops you. If you lose your driver’s license for a year, are you ready to get groceries by bike or public transit? Can someone give you a ride to work? It’s inconvenient to say the least. I’m not trying to beat a dead horse — you probably already feel guilty and ashamed. The best thing you can do for your future is to get treatment if you need it, and hire a good DUI lawyer.
2. You Probably Don’t Know Legal Particulars
Sure, it’s called “the legal system,” but a more accurate name is “a complex labyrinth designed to make you weep from confusion.” The ins and outs of DUI law are not something you can pick up from watching The Good Wife. (You’re more likely to get misinformation and dramatization.) If this is your first arrest, you’re even more likely to be confused and overwhelmed. Either work with a public defender or hire a DUI attorney, but don’t represent yourself in a trial. Without a good lawyer, you may have to pay higher bails and be subject to pre-trial supervision and alcohol monitoring, or several other conditions that an experienced attorney may get waived for you.
Photo: FunGi Trading
A good DUI lawyer knows Montana DUI law in and out. At Judnich Law Office, we know how to handle every single step of the process from your arraignment, interpret the police report, and assess and fight any blood, urine, or breath test results. We know how you should plead, and whether we should contest how the cops followed (or didn’t follow) procedure. We’ve seen hundreds of Montana DUI cases with great results. Plus, we stay on top of the latest changes in the law and new cases that could affect the outcome of yours.
That doesn’t mean that every DUI lawyer is great — far from it. Talk to several and ask how many DUI cases they have defended and won. (Avvo has more good questions, like how they would keep the DUI off your record, and what percent of their practice is DUI defenses.) You need experience and an attorney that knows the judges, the prosecutors and the officers to get results. If you feel like the person is talking circles around you, politely turn them down. The best DUI lawyers will actually answer your questions (and do so honestly).
3. Public Defenders Are Too Busy
I like and respect many public defenders; we work alongside them everyday. But the sad reality is that a lot of them are overloaded. Their caseload may be too heavy for them to invest the time and energy into your case. Some extra research and investigating can make all the difference in your situation if it uncovers a helpful detail. There are definitely some excellent, hardworking public defenders out there. But given the serious nature of a DUI conviction, would you prefer to have an attorney who does not have time for you, or invest in one that you are paying to devote time to your case and your case only? Unfortunately, unlike DUI lawyers, if you aren’t happy with your public defender, you don’t get to pick a new one or the one of your choice.
4. The DMV Complicates Things
With a DUI, you aren’t just dealing with the court; you’re also dealing with the DMV. DUI cases typically involve suspending your license. The public defender’s office cannot handle this type of issue for you, only a private attorney can help you with civil license suspension issues. If you want to contest the DMV license suspension, you have a limited time to act or you lose your opportunity. We can file a petition on your behalf to attempt to un-suspend your license and get it back for you and actually explain the process to you.
Arrested for a DUI and want to know your options?
I can tell you about my experience winning DUI defense cases. For a free, no-pressure consultation, call the Judnich Law Office at 406-721-3354 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marty is a former criminal prosecutor in the Cascade County Attorney’s Office and now uses that experience to defend those accused of crimes. A University of Montana School of Law graduate, Marty focuses his practice on personal injury and criminal defense and is a premier DUI defense attorney. He is also well versed in the insurance claims industry and has negotiated significant settlements with nearly every major insurance company.