What is a DUI Lawyer?

Dee S.
Dee S.

If someone has been drinking alcohol or using drugs, and chooses to drive a car, she runs the risk of being pulled over by a police officer. If she cannot pass a set of tests, called sobriety tests, or if she does not pass a breathalyzer test to determine the amount of alcohol that is her bloodstream, she may be arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). In that situation, she will need to hire a DUI lawyer to handle her case.

A DUI lawyer handles the defense of someone charged with drinking and driving.
A DUI lawyer handles the defense of someone charged with drinking and driving.

This type of lawyer represents a person who has been charged with using drugs or drinking alcohol in excess of the amounts set by the laws of the state while driving a motor vehicle. As the attorney of the person charged with the crime, the lawyer can handle all aspects of the case from start to finish.

Defendants should share all of the facts about their DUI stop with their lawyers.
Defendants should share all of the facts about their DUI stop with their lawyers.

A good DUI lawyer will consult with his client and explain the possible scenarios if she is convicted: a suspended or revoked driving license, fees, fines, and/or jail-time. Typically, an experienced DUI lawyer will challenge the arrest, try to convince the Court to lower the charges, or attempt to reduce the sentence against the defendant. Oftentimes the lawyer will dispute whether the police officer was within his constitutional rights to stop the car and he may question, in court, whether the testing was accurate.

DUI lawyers can sometimes challenge the results of a breathalyzer test.
DUI lawyers can sometimes challenge the results of a breathalyzer test.

A DUI lawyer will clarify legal issues and make sure his client understands what is happening and what will happen in the months to come. For example, he can give details on what sentence can be expected for a first time conviction versus a person who has been previously convicted. There are usually several hearings, starting with a hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and ending with the County or State Court. DUI attorneys will attend and advocate for the defendant at each hearing.

DUI lawyers may try to challenge the circumstances their client was arrested under.
DUI lawyers may try to challenge the circumstances their client was arrested under.

Choosing a good DUI lawyer can be an overwhelming task. In most cities, the phone book is overrun with lawyers who specialize in driving under the influence cases. Word of mouth is often a great way to find a reputable attorney.

Research your choices and see who can best work your case. Consider his fees and experience. Some DUI lawyers charge a flat fee for handling a defendant’s case. Others charge by the hour, charging for each minute spent working on the case and for any office supplies used to prepare for a hearing.

The rate of drunk driving is highest among 21 to 25 year olds.
The rate of drunk driving is highest among 21 to 25 year olds.
Dee S.
Dee S.

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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Discussion Comments


@Comfyshoes - I live in Florida and if you are charged with a DUI you should definitely seek a Florida DUI lawyer or a Miami DUI lawyer because the laws in Florida are different than in other states.

For example, in Florida, if you are charged with a DUI you will have two hearings. One hearing involves the suspension of your driver’s license and the other involves the criminal charges that you would be facing.

I was also reading that a DUI conviction cannot be expunged because this offense is a public safety issue and there needs to be a record to make sure that you don’t do this again because if you do the punishment will be more severe the second time.


@Icecream17 - I agree with you, but if you are dealing with an alcoholic or a drug addict they might be better suited in rehab because they have a physical addiction that they need to break. These people should definitely have their license suspended indefinitely because someone with a chronic problem like this is going to do it again.

I recently heard about a case with a woman that was driving drunk and was pulled over, but because she was famous, the police officer gave her a warning. Well the women kept driving and eventually killed a lady a few blocks from her home. The actress is now facing DUI manslaughter charges, but if the first police officer would have done his job maybe this poor lady that was killed would have been alive today.

The actress has an Orange County DUI lawyer working on her case. I hope that she does jail time because she could have easily called a car service to pick her up and take her where she wanted to go. She did not have to drive under these conditions.


@SauteePan - I understand your frustration with DUI offenders but there is a problem with automatic jail sentences. The prisons are already overcrowded and would you want a violent prisoner let go to accommodate a DUI offender?

I was reading that in California many prisoners were being released early due to budget cuts and significant overcrowding. I think that people charged with DUI should be forced to go work for anti drunk driving advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

They should see what the consequences are to drunk driving so that maybe they will understand the potential devastation that can ensue with a bad choice of drinking and driving. People often overestimate their reflexes and their judgment and don’t realize that even if they had one drink they are already impaired.

I was watching a television program that offered a stationary simulated test to show how a person would drive under the influence of two drinks and how someone would drive under the influence of four drinks. The participant in the study was having some trouble staying in her lane and after the fourth drink, she could not decipher where the lane even was.

This was a powerful study because so many people think that a drink or two will not make much of a difference but it does. It definitely changes your reaction time.


@StarryNight - I personally think that a criminal DUI lawyer is just doing his job in defending the defendant. I realize that when someone is pulled over for DUI there is significant evidence that they have been driving while impaired and could have easily killed someone.

I think that instead of being upset with the DUI defense lawyer we should tell our congressmen to create stricter laws regarding DUI offenses. If it were up to me the first time you get pulled over for DUI, you should be facing a felony charge not a misdemeanor.

I don’t think that we should have to wait for the person driving under the influence to kill someone before their charges are elevated to a felony. I also believe there should be an automatic jail sentence and a stiff fine. We have to make people think twice before they drink and drive and maybe we can cut down on the first time and repeat DUI offenders.


The field of legal defense for DUI offenders has become very specialized in recent years. Many of the lawyers have learned a lot about the tests used for determining DUI charges.

The consequences of driving under the influence has become more serious and life-changing. They could lose their license with no way to get to work,get higher insurance rates, an interlock system put on their car, and jail time.

Unless you find a specialized DUI lawyer, who knows the trade, you might not get good defense and that could affect the outcome of the legal action.

A lawyer, who understands the problems of alcoholism, anxiety and depression, and how these conditions affect someone who is caught driving under the influence, will help keep the person cooperative.

However, most people who are arrested for DUI are guilty. If they get off on some kind of technicality, they will no doubt re-offend. They must learn that getting behind the wheel when drunk or drug-affected, no matter how they feel, is risky and against the law.


@starrynight - I agree with you - despite some flaws, our system of justice is about as good as it gets. There are a lot of DUI cases and we need many DUI lawyers who are well trained to advocate for these people.

DUI offenders are usually guilty, and driving under the influence is potentially dangerous to us all. I feel it's not the lawyer's job to manipulate or "pull a fast one" to get his client off. Rather, he should determine the facts and show what this particular offender needs, to refrain from re-offending. Some chronic offenders need jail time. Perhaps first time offenders would be best served by some jail time and classes and monitoring behavior to keep them from offending again.


@JaneAir - Don't you think you're being a little harsh? One of the things that makes our country so great is our justice system: innocent until proven guilty. Not every person that who is accused is actually guilty.

Also a DUI defense lawyer serves as an important "check" in our system of checks and balances. Even if the person is guilty they still deserve a fair trial and a defense attorney is part of what makes this possible.

Yes, drunk driving is a horrible offense. But everyone in this country deserves a fair trial and a defense lawyer is part of what makes that possible.


Wow I think a criminal DUI lawyer is just the lowest of the low. Drunk drivers put both themselves and others at risk when they drink and get behind the wheel. Personally I think we should lock them all up and throw away the key.

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