Maybe you or a loved one has been arrested for OWI in Wisconsin for the first time, and you’re trying to decide between representing yourself, using a public defender, or hiring a private lawyer.
Is getting your own attorney worth the money? The short answer is yes in nearly every situation.
While you don’t need a lawyer for a first offense OWI, there are several reasons why hiring an experienced OWI attorney could help you better understand your situation, get a reduced sentence, or even, in some cases, help save your license.
Read on to learn how.
Read Also: The Consequences of Your First OWI in Wisconsin
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help You with a First Offense OWI
Hiring an experienced lawyer can give you an edge. It ensures that your representative gives your case mindshare, understands your options, and can help you choose the best course of action based on your unique situation.
1. Talking to a Defense Attorney Will Help You Understand Your Case and The Consequences of Conviction
An experienced OWI lawyer can help you determine the best course of action for your defense. They have likely worked on similar cases, are familiar with local prosecutors, and have a better idea of what options are available to you. In addition, many offer free consultations which could help you decide whether it makes sense to hire a lawyer to represent your case.
2. An Attorney Will Give Your Case the Personal Attention it Deserves
Chances are, your case isn’t the only one a public defender will be handling, and you don’t get to choose who will defend you. Moreover, the public defender will not defend you in the DMV proceedings—only in the criminal court.
Often, a public defender will try to get you a plea bargain, which tends to deliver a lighter sentence. However, depending on the circumstances of your arrest, this may not be your best option. For example, if the officer who arrested you made a procedural mistake, your representative might be able to get your charges dismissed. If you hire a private attorney, they will represent you in both your DMV proceedings and in criminal court, and you can benefit from their expertise and potentially build a more powerful and compelling case.
3. With an Attorney's Help, You May Be Able to Reduce Your Penalties or Have Your Case Dismissed Entirely
If you know that you’re innocent or your case might involve complicating factors such as the ones listed below, you will definitely want to consult an attorney as soon as possible.
Circumstances that could help reduce your sentence:
- The results of a field sobriety test
- BAC at the time of arrest
- Questionable accuracy of BAC results
- An officer’s procedural errors at the time of your arrest
Circumstances that might increase your penalties:
- Extremely high BAC
- An accident that caused an injury
- The presence of a minor in the car at the time of arrest
- Prior offenses
Depending on factors such as these, you may not want to plead guilty to your charges. An experienced lawyer will be able to determine whether one of these factors could turn your offense into a felony, or be the key to getting a reduced sentence.
In addition, if you have a lawyer present at your first DMV hearing, you stand a better chance of preventing your license from being suspended.
Read Also: 5 Ways You Might Incur Extra Penalties For OWI-Related Incidents
Request a FREE Wisconsin OWI Defense Consultation