A drink driving charge can bring severe consequences with it. You can face fines. You can lose your license. You can even go to prison. So, is it worth getting a solicitor for drink driving?
The short answer is yes. Yes, it is almost certainly worth getting a specialist in motoring-related offences to at least take a cursory glance at your case.
Because the consequences of being found guilty of drink driving are high. The court system isn’t simple. And only with an expert can you be sure that you are putting forward the best possible defence.
Do I need a solicitor in court for drink driving?
You are not required to find a specialist drink driving solicitor if you receive a court summons for drink driving.
You may have a general lawyer assigned to defend you. However, these general law practitioners will rarely give you the best chance of defending yourself from drink driving-related charges.
It is in the interests of the CPS (the Crown Prosecution Service) and other interested parties like the courts and the police for you to simply plead guilty. It’s worth knowing though that the majority of people (over 75% in a recent survey) later regretted pleading guilty to a drink driving offence.
Every case is different. But broadly speaking, it is wise to at least discuss your case with a lawyer who specialises in motoring offences before you decide on a course of action.
What can a solicitor for drink driving do for you?
The easiest way to decide if it’s worth getting a solicitor for drink driving charges is whether or not any of the following things a specialist lawyer can do would be useful to you:
1) Explain if you have a defence and what it is
There are many ways in which you might be able to make a legal defence that aren’t immediately obvious. For instance, only a specialist who understands the trial and legal systems can advise you as to whether there could be:
- Issues with procedure – it’s not uncommon for the police or CPS to skip required procedures, sometimes due to time or budget constraints.
- Problems with evidence – even if it appears ironclad on the surface, evidence may not have been collected legally or correctly show your alcohol level.
- Failures in disclosure – the CPS is required to disclose evidence but sometimes neglects to do so.
These are things that are not clear to the layperson. But they can mean that pleading guilty might not automatically be the best strategy even if the case against you appears incontrovertible.
Equally, it is very risky to plead not guilty if you aren’t sure of the defence you are able to offer. That means it’s very unwise to do so without professional legal advice.
2) Guide you through the court process
The court process is pretty opaque and intimidating if you haven’t engaged with it before. A drink driving solicitor will be able to assist and support you throughout the process, including:
- Explaining what is happening or what will happen at any given point
- Review relevant case law and evidence that’s been collected
- Determine if you should challenge any evidence
- Take statements from any witnesses
- Handle communications to and from the court and the CPS
In short, everything that’s needed to ensure you know what is happening with your case at all times. You don’t want to find yourself leaving court one day confused as to what just happened.
3) Advise you whether to plead guilty or not guilty
The decision as to whether to plead guilty or not guilty in a drink driving case depends on the strength of the evidence against you and whether you have a defence. A specialist lawyer will know what the best approach is.
4) Speak in court on your behalf
Some people choose to represent themselves at trial. If you are comfortable speaking in public, understand the court system, and know what to say and how to say it, this may be an option for you.
However, there are formal ways to speak and expected procedures in court. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time – even if it’s an honest mistake – can be disastrous.
You don’t technically have to have a lawyer to represent you. For most people though, a good advocate can make a big difference.
5) Tell you what you should and should not say
You might think that you’ve got a winning point that the judge will hear and immediately be convinced by. A solicitor will be able to advise you if there is any chance of that working.
They can advise you on how to act and what to say to encourage the magistrate to think well of you or how to mitigate your sentence should you be pleading guilty. For example, you might say that you are sorry and explain how not being able to drive will ruin your career.
In general, getting a solicitor for drink driving is a smart move because it helps you know what to say, do, and how to act throughout the process before, during, and after your case goes to trial.
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