Elgin and Kane County Illinois Legal Blog

Criminal or DUI private attorney versus a public defender?

Posted by Robert Steffen on Mon, Feb 14, 2011 @ 08:26 PM

Is there really a difference between hiring a private attorney to represent you as opposed to a public defender?  For those defendants who are truly indigent, hiring a private attorney may not be an option, but there are many who may qualify for a public defender that can still afford to raise funds to hire a private attorney.  So what's the difference?  Perhaps the most important difference is the restrictions placed on the representation that public defenders can give to a client.  A perfect example is representation in a DUI case.

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When charged with a DUI, a defendant is alsotypically served with a statutory summary suspension for either having a blood alcohol content over the stautory limit of .08 or for refusing to submit to a breath or other testing.  At that point, there are two separate and distinct proceedings: a criminal proceeding as evidenced by the DUI tickets; and a civil proceeding against a defendant's driver's license as evidenced by the officers sworn report and notice of stautory summary suspension.

In Illinois, as well as other states, defendants are only eligable to receive a public defender to represent them on criminal matters.  Therefore, a public defender is prohibited from representing a defendant on their statutory summary suspension.  For most first time offenders, the loss of their license can have a bigger impact on their daily lives then a sentence on a DUI.  A private attorney can represent a defendant on both matters.

Topics: DUI, summary suspension, private attorney