Should You Use a Public Defender for Your DWI Case?

Being convicted of DWI is a serious offense with serious consequences. It will impact your right to drive and your life. You could well be facing jail time and fines. Your reputation will be severely damaged. Employers and landlords will be find out on the simplest background check. College admission and student loans could be jeopardized. You have a lot at stake.

When read the Miranda Warning, you heard that the state will provide an attorney at no charge. Before making a decision on whether to use the services of a public defender or to retain your own attorney, there are a few points to consider.

  • If you elect to use a public defender, you don’t get to choose your lawyer. The state will make that decision for you. The lawyer appointed for you may or may not have any experience with cases like yours.
  • You may or may not meet the financial qualifications for a public defender.
  • A DUI/DWI charges means that there will be two sets of hearings. One is an administrative DMV hearing which will determine whether or not and for how long your license will be suspended. The other hearing is in court and determines your guilt or innocence of the charge. A private attorney will be able to represent you at both, but a public defender will only represent you in court. You’re on your own at the DMV hearing unless you hire your own attorney for the DMV hearing.
  • A public defender is being paid by the government, not by you. Public defenders are bound by the same ethical constraints as private attorneys, but face a number of practical difficulties. A public defender is typically handling more cases at once, so has less time available to spend on any one case.
  • Do you intend to fight the charge or plead guilty? Public defenders are normally permitted to only bring so many cases to trial. The rest are plea bargained with the prosecutor. If you intend to fight the charge, you’ll normally be better off with a private attorney who works for you.

At Powers McCartan PLLC, you’ll find experienced DWI defense lawyers who will fight to win your case. Contact the firm today for a free case evaluation. The government wheels are turning – there’s no time to waste.