Can I represent myself in a DUI or DWI case?
“Can I defend my own DWI case in New Jersey?”
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“Can I fight my DUI or DWI case on my own?”
Answer: Yes, but it’s not a good idea. First of all, DWI law is a highly complicated field. There are multiple certifications that lawyers are able to get, which allow us to challenge different elements of DWI cases against you. For one example, I am certified to operate the Alcotest 7110 machine which is the breath testing machine at the police station. This means that I can examine the “discovery” in your DWI case pertaining to the breath test results, and challenge the outcome based on the officers use of the machine. If the machine wasn’t used properly, I can have the results thrown out.
Additionally, these machines need to be serviced and calibrated regularly. If this hasn’t happened, I can have the results thrown out. Even if the state fails to provide the service record, I can have the case thrown out. This type of loophole is a good reason to go with a legitimate DWI defense attorney and there are many examples of these.
Also, do you know how to file a motion? Do you know how to write a letter to get the discovery, the collection of evidence in your case? Are you familiar with basic court-room procedure when actually presenting your case? Of course not. The ability to execute DWI defense strategy is key if you want to win, as well as when making deals with the prosecutor.
When I challenge a DWI case, many times the case is dismissed because of conversations that I have with the prosecutor, long before the trial begins. He or she and I will agree that perhaps the field sobriety results were not adequate grounds for probable cause and the state will dismiss the case.
Even if you do find a loophole in your case, and bring it to the prosecutor, do you think that he or she will dismiss the case while knowing that you probably don’t have the faintest idea of how to file a motion to disregard evidence? Probably not. You need to have a legitimate threat in your back pocket, and quite honestly, most prosecutors will simply not back down to the strong-arm negotiations of an every day civilian.
The fact remains: if you really want to win this case, you will only be able to do so with an attorney at your side.