A public defender is a court appointed attorney. To qualify for a public defender you have to fill out a financial affidavit and show that you have no real assets to pay for an attorney. Even if you do qualify for the services of the public defender many courts require you to pay the public defender for the legal services.
An Illinois DUI case has two parts, a civil part (the Statutory Summary Suspension) and a criminal part (the DUI charge). The public defender will only assist you on the DUI charge and not on the Statutory Summary Suspension. Public defenders do not mention to you that there are two parts to your case and you only have representation for half of your case.
I am currently dealing with a client who had a public defender on her DUI case. The DUI case was thrown out because there was no evidence that she was drinking and driving. But the 3 year Statutory Summary Suspension remained on her Illinois driving record- – she cannot drive for 3 years! This is because the public defender never filed a Petition to Rescind the Statutory Summary Suspension. The public defender is not allowed to file the Petition to Rescind, even if, they wanted to.
If my client initially hired me on her DUI both the DUI and the 3 year Statutory Summary Suspension would have been dismissed.