Technically, you don’t NEED to hire an attorney in any criminal matter, but it would be foolish in most circumstances not to do so. In criminal cases, such as DUI, you may be subjected to fines and loss of liberty (jail time).
You may want to consult with an attorney immediately after your arrest and prior to the receipt of the Criminal Complaint and Affidavit of Probable Cause from the Magisterial District Judge’s Office. Prior to receiving this paperwork, though, an attorney would likely be speculating about specific possible punishments which you may be facing because it is not until the charges are filed and paperwork is received when all of the charges against you are known.
Additionally, the Affidavit of Probable Cause outlines the factual circumstances of your case and arrest. In the Affidavit of Probable Cause, an attorney may be able to find some type of error or unlawful act on the part of the police which may significantly impact the sustainability of the charges filed against you. If you do decide to hire an attorney, you should certainly schedule to meet with the attorney prior to your Preliminary Hearing.
Further, the main reason to hire an attorney is that an attorney is extensively trained in the law. This extensive training provides them with knowledge of criminal procedure, constitutional principles and experience in dealing with police and prosecutors- all areas of knowledge which laypersons unlikely possess. Simply put, you should always hire an attorney in a criminal case, if you can do so. If you do not have the financial means to hire a private attorney, you may be eligible for the services of the Public Defender. Likewise, you should apply for the services of the Public Defender far in advance of your Preliminary Hearing. ~ Attorney Douglas Taglieri