How to Fight a DUI Without a Lawyer

It is not advisable to fight a DUI or any criminal charge in court without a lawyer. But since you are reading this there must be a financial or other reason that you are choosing not to hire a legal counsel. Depending on the circumstances and how honest the prosecutor is, there may be a chance.

Why is the Fourth Amendment Important?

The very first issue you need to look at in a case is why were you stopped or detained? The Fourth Amendment protects people against illegal search and seizure.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized

Amendment IV to the U.S. Constitution

The police need reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stopped a vehicle for instance. If the police do not have a good reason than the case is already bad and should be dismissed. It may take a trained lawyer to discovery whether there is a 4th amendment violation unless it is blatantly obvious.

If the prosecutor does not dismiss the case when there is an obvious 4th amendment violation then a person representing themself (pro se) has a big problem. There is an integrity issue with the state and a need for legal counsel to file the proper motion to suppress. This red flag may also mean there are other issues being hidden from the accused. This really exists in our courts to this day.

The Police Didn’t Read Me My Rights

The police did not read me my rights-So is my case dismissed? Not necessarily. The police only have to read a person their rights if the person is not free to leave or under arrest. So in DUI and DWI cases the police in Texas consider it being ‘detained’ when they are asking initial roadside questions. But for certain once the handcuffs are on and a person is told they are being placed under arrest, that is when the miranda rights come into play. Although a driver is not free to leave when the police are asking roadside question, there can be a gray area. This is where a good lawyer will research the issue. It can be complicated and beyond this blog post, but there might be a miranda violation without being arrested.

What Evidence Does The Prosecutor Have?

It’s if very important to know what evidence you are entitled to. This is pretty much all of the evidence that exists. But in most cases you have to properly ask for it. Being a pro se defendant many jurisdictions will not give it to you and will make you come into the office at a prescribed time and view the evidence. A pro se defendant needs to know what to ask and look for with the evidence. There are police reports, breath or blood test, audio, video, photos etc.

Can You go to Trial Without a Lawyer?

If it wasn’t already tough up to this point, it can definitely be as a pro se in trial. Even an attorney gets nervous in trial. Picking a jury can be difficult and knowing how to present questions to the jury panel. The state is already experienced at least a little in this area. The accused needs to do some research about how jury selection (voir dire) takes place. Maybe ask a local lawyer for advice and get the jury questionnaires ahead of the day for trial if possible to study the jury panel.

Knowing what questions to ask witnesses is very important. Also knowing what questions the state cannot ask can be equally as important. The other lawyer will try to lead their witness into saying a lot more than allowed, including hearsay statements.

It is important to know that the accuse has a right not to testify. This should have been talked about in jury selection. Some people just presume guilt when a person remains silent and does not tell their side of the story. But there are reasons, other than guilt, why a person does not testify.

Closing argument finishes up the trial where the parties summarize their side of the case. There are time limitations and limits to what can be said about the case. One thing for sure, it is not a time to leave the jury with a bad impression.


This only covers a fraction of the issues about a criminal case such as a DUI or DWI. If an accused person just cannot afford a lawyer there are court appointed lawyer options for most indigent people. If that is not an option, or the court appointed lawyer will not go to trial, a pro se trial is a last resort. Most lawyers will take a few minutes to explain how a trial works. It is worth a phone call to attempt to ask a few questions. If you have more questions take a look at my home page or leave a message in my contact form.

Author: Eric Torberson

Eric Torberson is a licensed attorney in Texas as well as licensed in the federal courts of the southern and western districts of Texas.