People charged with their first drunk driving offense are typically offered the opportunity to enter a “diversion” program. Here is how it works. You sign a contract agreeing to comply with certain court requirements, show up at a diversion hearing, enter a guilty plea, and submit the contract. If you do everything the court requires, in exactly one year, your DUI charge gets dismissed. If you are unable to complete the program, you end up getting sentenced, your guilty plea turns into a criminal conviction, and your conviction can never be expunged.

You do not have to hire an attorney to enter Oregon’s diversion program. You have a constitutional right to handle the matter pro se, in other words, on your own. That’s a bad idea.  Here’s why:

  1. It won’t save that much money. DUI diversion cases are straight forward and only take 3 or 4 hours of an attorney’s time.
  2. An attorney can help you make sure you don’t miss crucial deadlines, warn you about potential pitfalls, and answer all your questions.
  3. Nobody hates a pro se defendant more than a judge.  They slow things down and create ample fodder for appeal. If you run into trouble later on (and many people do) that first impression will be hard to shake.