No one plans on a DUI (Driving Under the Influence). If you don’t happen to have a few thousand dollars lying around to hire a private attorney and you meet other eligibility requirements, you may end up being represented by a court appointed attorney or public defender.
I’ve known some fantastic attorneys in the public defender’s office and, hopefully, you get an attorney like that. Public defenders, however, are truly overworked and underpaid. They often don’t have the time to sit down with you and answer questions the way you would like, if at all. What do you do under these circumstances?
Here’s is one thing you shouldn't do:
Tip #1 - Don’t call around to private DUI attorneys asking questions.
Sure, you may get a free consultation, but no DUI attorney worth anything will be able to answer your questions with any degree of certainty. Fishing for information from DUI attorneys who don’t know your case is an exercise in futility and confusion. Let’s say you have a few bucks to pay for an hour of a DUI attorney’s time and can bring paperwork with you. Still, not a good idea. Unless you are prepared to hire that attorney for your DUI, they still won’t be able to answer all of your questions and you will still be represented by an attorney at the public defender’s office who may or may not have a different opinion on your case. Bottom line: this is a waste of time and money. Patience is a virtue and you will need to work with the DUI attorney you have.
It is also important to remember that, under the circumstances above, you are actually represented by an attorney. Going outside of the representation to get instant answers to your questions might be tempting, but you should be told by any DUI attorney you speak with that they can’t actually talk with you about your case, because you are already represented. While there are no penalties for you trying to get answers, attorneys (DUI or other) are not supposed to be discussing your case if you are represented. Don’t take it personally, but you may get shut down pretty fast once the DUI attorney hears you are already represented.
Ideally, you can afford an attorney of your choice and hire one who responds to your questions as they arise. Even if you have to take a loan, it is worth it. DUI is a very stressful case to go through and there is nothing worse than having to sit on your questions for weeks or months until you see your attorney. That said, if circumstances are such that you save money with a court appointed DUI attorney or public defender, you should play by the rules and interact with your attorney alone. Mixing and matching is, ultimately, counter productive.