Am I OK just going with the public defender?
Usually – NO, you are not. Some may be, and some are, good lawyers - but the simple truth is that they're forced to be minimalists in defending their zillions of clients due to low budget and, mostly, their huge caseloads, except perhaps in some homicide cases. They are therefore not always thorough, cannot fight hard usually like a private defense attorney, and are often beginners, fresh out of law school. We are not taught how to practice law in law school - it can only be learned while in practice after one graduates from law school and passes the bar examination. That's when the real learning starts – in the trenches (the court rooms, for us). The public defenders do not even have time to think about your case very much. They will almost never take anyone's statements to gather evidence to help you, will not speak with your family or passengers, witnesses in many cases, or even with you very much, almost never returning your calls, texts, emails or whatever you send to them. Do you want that? That's not me ... I am fully accessible and truly relentless, all over your defense from Day One! I fight to win! I don't plead everyone guilty just to lighten a crushing case load. I have time to dig deep, to think about and research the legal issues presented by the facts of your unique case. I talk to everyone involved. I inspect the scene if it may help. I talk to your family, your passenger(s), any witnesses involved, I subpoena everything that may be helpful. I read your police report many times. I will also retain a private investigator if that will help your defense. Does that sound better to you than a minimalist whose best quality is that you don't have to pay them? It's your future and opportunities, your job, liberty and reputation on the line here. A DUI conviction never goes away and there's nothing to stop a given judge who may be in a bad mood, not like you or the facts of your case from giving you not just the mandatory minimum but a whole year (364 days is the maximum) in jail – even for a first offense! Hire a private attorney experienced in Washington DUI defense.