What Would You Advise Someone Planning Self-Representation In A DUI?

There’s a very old saying that gets repeated a lot – mainly because it’s very true – that a person who represents himself has a fool for a client. In other words, even if I, with all my years of experience and training would endeavor to represent myself in a DUI case, I would be foolish, and that’s because I’m too close to it; it would be too personal for me; the issues that need to be flushed out and addressed are things that I might miss because of my personal connection to the case. Not only that, I would not have credibility in front of the jury when I’m arguing for myself in a case.

When you have an attorney, that attorney, even though they’re representing you, can present themselves to the jury as a disinterested party who is just looking at this case for what it is, making sure that the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed, that the science backs up the claims the prosecution is trying to make and things like that. If I won’t represent myself on a DUI case with all the training and experience I have, what chance would you have representing yourself against a trained and experienced prosecutor in a very highly scientific case where your emotions will cloud you judgment as we move along.

For those reasons, it would seem very clear that almost no one would be a good attorney for themselves in this kind of case, or any case for that matter.

What’s The Difference Between Hiring A Private Attorney And Getting A Public Defender In A DUI Case?

There are lots of differences. The first and most obvious one is that, while public defenders come in all shapes and sizes, just like private attorneys, most of them are overworked in terms of their caseload; they have a lot of cases and they don’t have the luxury of devoting a lot of time to any one case. DUIs tend to be lower priority cases on a public defender’s caseload, while they are higher priority for a private attorney. As a general rule, public defenders who handle DUI cases tend to be rookies, whereas when you hire a private attorney, you can look at their level of experience and how much personal attention they’ll give you.

It’s kind of an anomaly; when I say public defenders who handle DUIs are typically rookie public defenders, remember that these are among the most highly scientific kinds of cases possible. As a general rule, public defenders who handle these cases don’t have the requisite amount of training and experience to properly analyze the scientific issues that exist in these cases.

I can tell you that as a rookie prosecutor, I didn’t have those tools, either; it was only after being a prosecutor for many years and then being a private defense attorney and attending a lot of very expensive legal training seminars that I developed a high level of understanding of these scientific issues; one that allows me to handle them much better than I ever did as a prosecutor or even as a defense attorney starting out. I am not familiar with a public defender anywhere in this state who is handling DUI cases and has the requisite amount of scientific training to analyze the issues in these kinds of cases.

In addition, there are DMV consequences that come along with DUI cases and public defenders are not permitted to handle matters in the administrative law setting of the DMV. Therefore, when you have a public defender, you’re on your own for the DMV half of the case, and the driver’s license consequences are often the most severe consequences.

Not having an attorney handle that aspect of the case really puts those people at a disadvantage.  That is not say that public defenders are not good attorneys; there are many very good public defenders out there who are really good litigators; it’s the nature of the system; they have way too many cases and when they’re handling DUI cases, they often don’t have a lot of experience.

For more information on Self-Representation In A DUI Case, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (303) 814-2600 today.

Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney Kevin Ellmann
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