Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers

Public Defender Versus Private Attorney For DWI Cases

DWI charges can be a lot more trouble than people realize, and hiring a good attorney is key. You have the option of working with a public defender, but hiring private counsel is often a better choice.

Defendants often work with public defenders because they provide their services for free. However, public defenders often lack experience and are stretched very thin over heavy caseloads. Private counsel provides numerous benefits public defenders often lack. A private attorney likely has greater experience they can draw on to help you fight your charges, and they often have more time to dedicate to cases. When you hire a private attorney, your case might take longer to complete, but only because your lawyer will dedicate more time and effort to your needs. With a lighter caseload, a private lawyer can offer a more vigorous defense.

Call (609) 257-4019 to schedule a free review of your case with our New Jersey DWI defense attorneys at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates.

Whom to Hire for a DWI in New Jersey

When faced with DWI charges, law enforcement officials should inform you of your right to an attorney. Every state and county has a public defender’s office that provides public defenders to defendants at no cost. Although accepting legal assistance for free is tempting, hiring your own private counsel has certain advantages.

Public defenders are known for being inexperienced and overworked. Many fresh law school graduates become public defenders to gain experience and cut their teeth in the courtroom. As a result, many public defenders have very little practical experience and might not be able to provide the best defense possible.

Public defenders are also known for being insanely overworked. A lot of defendants cannot afford lawyers and turn to public defenders for help. This means the average public defender has a heavy caseload and little time to devote to any single case. As a result, you might end up with the bare minimum defense provided by an exhausted, inexperienced public defender.

Though more expensive than public defenders, private defense attorneys offer something many public defenders need: experience. Your private attorney can use their knowledge and the skills they have honed over time to provide the best defense possible.

Benefits of Hiring Private Counsel for a DWI in New Jersey

Do not be dismayed by the price tag that comes with private counsel. Not only is the benefit of a private attorney worth the expense, but legal fees are often lower than people assume. Our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers can use the skills and legal knowledge they have amassed over time to provide a solid defense.

Saving Money

Believe it or not, a good private attorney might save you money in the long run. People are usually very concerned about the fines associated with DWIs, which can be very expensive. Under New Jersey law, for a first offense, a DWI defendant might face a minimum fine of $250 and a maximum fine of $500, depending on their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The fines can be even higher if the defendant has previous DWIs on their record.

A private attorney has the time and skills to work on your case and hopefully reduce those fines and penalties. For example, the prosecutor might want to upgrade your charges because you allegedly had a high BAC and prior DWIs. A more experienced attorney would know to challenge both the BAC results and the alleged DWI history. If your BAC results are untrustworthy and previous DWIs are too remote, your charges and fines should be reduced. Although you might spend more on a private lawyer, you save money by avoiding penalties.

Time Spent on Your Case

Another big advantage private counsel provides is the time spent on your case. Many DWI defendants go with public defenders and enter guilty pleas because they are told it is the fastest way to end their case and put the whole thing behind them. While pleading guilty is certainly a faster option, there are better options.

Private attorneys can dedicate themselves more fully to your case because they often have smaller caseloads. With more time and attention from your attorney, you might spend more time in court fighting the charges. In the end, many DWI defendants leave with charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed because they hired a private attorney who could spend more time working on their case.


Perhaps the biggest advantage provided by a private attorney is their experience. New attorneys often start honing their skills in public offices, internships, or fellowships. Private attorneys are usually more seasoned and can use their experience to your benefit.

A private lawyer who has handled DWI cases will know better about handling your case. They should be better able to see potential defense strategies and flaws in the prosecutor’s case. For example, an experienced private attorney might know better about the complex nature of DWI charges and how they can be reduced or challenged in court.

What to Expect When Hiring Private Counsel for a New Jersey DWI Case

When you hire private counsel for a DWI case, you should expect the case to take a bit longer, but only because your attorney has the knowledge and abilities to fight your charges more effectively. Your case might move slower, but this is not a bad thing. It means your private attorney is working harder to fight your charges.

You should also expect a more vigorous defense. Public defenders tend to be inexperienced and more easily bested in court by prosecutors. Private lawyers have likely fought DWI charges before and know how to do so effectively. With greater skills and knowledge, a private lawyer can pull out all the stops.

Call Our New Jersey DWI Defense Lawyers for Help Today

Give us a call at (609) 257-4019 to schedule a free case evaluation with our Mr. Laurel criminal defense lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates.