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Do You Need a Lawyer for a First Time DUI in Pennsylvania?

What is the benefit of hiring a private criminal attorney?

Interviewer: Can people get in the ARD program by themselves or is it better to have an attorney to help them get into the program?

Ellis: Anybody can represent themselves for anything. There is a very famous saying, “Anybody who represents themselves has a fool for a client.” I always equate it with being a mechanic. If my car breaks down, I am not a trained mechanic. I have no idea what I am doing. I know I am going to do more harm than good.

I have had clients who retained me, halfway or three-quarters of the way through their case. I have seen situations where they went into court initially to try to defend themselves and they were taken advantage of by the police and the prosecutor.

Whether it is a traffic ticket or whether it is a homicide, you should always get an attorney when you have to go to court. In a DUI, you go to jail. You lose your license. You could have a conviction on your record. So, it is too serious to go in without somebody who knows what they are doing.

Interviewer: What are the benefits of hiring a private attorney versus a public defender?

Ellis: Honestly, there are plenty of good public defenders. I have a lot of friends in the public defender’s office that I initially went up against when I was a DA. We have become friends since. However, the problem with public defenders is you get what you pay for.

Most of the time, with the public defender you typically do not meet your attorney until maybe two minutes before you go to see the judge. So, how prepared can they be? Honestly, they are overworked, and they are underpaid.

With a private attorney, it is more about customer service. It is more about being able to get your attorney 24 hours a day if there is an emergency. It is really a question of experience too because some of the public defenders are not very experienced.

Interviewer: Do private attorneys have more time to spend with the clients because their caseloads are less?

Ellis: I do not know, necessarily, that their caseload is less. A public defender, honestly, is a 9 to 5 job. Public offenders do not get paid very much. It is a very stressful job because they are constantly in trial. This is not to say being a private attorney is not stressful, but we certainly have the resources to put into a case.

We have investigators that we can hire. We have expert toxicologists that we rely upon. We also have a network of peers who we speak to about our cases, for advice. So, I think you get better representation with private counsel.



icon car - Criminal Defense

Learn what to do if you have been stopped for DUI/DWI.

icon car - Criminal Defense

If this is your first DUI offense, you may be eligible for ARD.



Commonwealth v. "H" (DUI case)

Client was charged with three separate DUI cases calling for mandatory minimum imprisonment of 90 days on each case. Client was advised to seek immediate intensive alcohol counseling. Client was sentenced to 1 year of house arrest after serving 3 days in the county prison.


Commonwealth v. "C" (Felony drug/Firearms case)

Client was charged with felony Delivery of drugs and illegal gun possession and was facing a mandatory 3-6 year prison sentence in the State prison system. Client was sentenced to one year of house arrest.


Commonwealth v. "S"

Client was charged with simple assault, domestic. After a hearing where evidence and testimony was presented, the entire case was dismissed by Judge Leonard Brown.


State of New Jersey v. "H"

Charges for young man charged with second degree aggravated assault were downgraded to third degree and he was accepted into the County Pretrial Intervention program with charges to be dismissed and record expunged after one year of misconduct free behavior.


We have decades of experience dealing with local police departments, prosecutors, and judges throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Anyone facing charges involving a criminal offense can expect to experience a heightened degree of emotional turmoil, for themselves, as well as their family members. Our team of highly qualified criminal law attorneys and expert legal support staff are committed to providing each of our client’s with the compassion and understanding they deserve, as well as an aggressive plan for representation at an affordable price.

As former prosecutors, we have a balanced and in-depth understanding of the criminal justice system and how the prosecution prepares cases. In addition, we have long-standing experience dealing with local police departments, prosecutors and judges throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

At Young, Marr and Associates, when we say “experience matters,” we mean it. Our lawyers, which include two former prosecutors and a former senior deputy district attorney bring more than three decades of criminal law experience, handling more than 10,000 criminal cases. It is precisely that experience that allows us to achieve outstanding results for our clients facing DUI, traffic, felony and misdemeanor charges in state, federal and juvenile courts.