Should a person represent themselves in a DUI case?

Lately, I have had several people ask me if they could just represent themselves in a DUI case. Each time I tell them the same thing. You have a legal right to do so, but it is not recommended.

I have been a Seattle DUI Attorney for 5 years. During 4 of those years I worked as a public defender, which means I was in court every single day, dealing with hundreds of clients a month. On occasion I had the opportunity to view people who elected to represent themselves on a DUI charge. Not once did this work to the advantage of the accused. I saw some interesting theories on why they were arrested, but I never saw anyone who actually did this get found not guilty.

There are many reasons why representing yourself on a DUI charge is not a good idea.

First there are numerous rules that you need to be familiar with. Both rules of evidence, and local court rules. A good DUI defense attorney has spent a significant amount of time familiarizing themselves with these rules, procedures, and court decisions.

Secondly a DUI attorney is going to have the experience that you don’t. Whether it involves knowing the prosecutor, judges, and police officers. Or having the necessary experience in trial. Experience goes a long way in this field.

Lastly there is a science to defending a DUI. An accomplished DUI attorney will understand this science and be able to mount arguments against it. Defending a DUI is not as simple as saying the accused’s ability to drive was not impaired by alcohol. There is a lot more to it than that.

If a person does choose to proceed “pro se” then a Judge will determine whether the defendant is fully aware of their rights, understands that going at this alone will not be a basis for appeal, and they will be held to the same standards as a practicing attorney.

If you are contemplating representing yourself on a Seattle DUI or a Washington State DUI charge, please contact my office immediately. I can certainly help with any questions you may have, and give you my thoughts on how you should proceed. I offer a free 60 minute consultation.