If you have been charged with a DUI, you will possibly have the ability to accept a DUI plea bargain that will either reduce the severity of the charge, reduce the number of charges against you, or reduce the penalties you face upon conviction. While DUI plea bargains often prove beneficial to defendants, particularly in cases where there is a strong case against them and conviction is likely, there are several things you should know before accepting a deal. Read on for more information.
What Types of Plea Deals are Available with DUI Charges?
- Accepting a guilty plea to a lesser charge. If the original charge that was filed was a DUI, there is an option to agree to a “wet” reckless charge, which is a less serious offense and the penalties are not as harsh.
- Dismissing one or more charges in exchange for a guilty plea on another charge. Many times, particularly if there is a fatal or an injury accident involved, you will be charged with a number of offenses. Often, in situations like these, the prosecution will choose to avoid the expense of litigation if you are willing to plead guilty only to the most serious of the charges.
- Agreeing to a penalty involving reduced fines or the loss of driving privileges for a shorter amount of time in exchange for a guilty plea. This is also a way for the prosecution to avoid the expense of litigation, especially if there is ample evidence to prove your guilt. The benefit for the defendant in this type of deal is that — while they are unable to avoid consequences for the crime, they are able to reduce those consequences by agreeing to the deal.
When Is a DUI Plea Bargain Available?
Plea bargaining can take place at any point in a DUI case, even after the trial has already begun. Most often, however, the plea bargaining process begins with the start of the court process. The prosecution is generally very amenable to bargaining, as agreeing to a deal saves time, energy, and money that can be used for other cases. However, it should be noted that you should never enter into a deal with a prosecutor under the notion of a “quick and easy resolution” without first talking to any attorney to ensure that you’re getting a fair deal.
It is also important to note that you are not required to accept a plea bargain offered at any point in the process, and the judge is not required to accept the deal either. Usually, if the judge rejects the deal, it is because he or she feels that the prosecutor’s agreement with you was too lenient. In that circumstance, he or she is permitted to reject the deal and impose sentencing of his or her own choosing. If your attorney recognizes the signs that this is about to happen, often he or she will suggest withdrawing from the deal and taking your chances with litigation.
Other Options for Reducing or Dismissing DUI Charges
While a DUI plea bargain is one of the most common ways of resolving this type of case, there are often other options for reducing or dismissing the charges against you. Your attorney will review the details and the evidence very carefully to look for issues with the prosecution’s case in order to see if any of the following options is available to you:
- Having the charges dismissed based on faulty evidence, such as improperly calibrated equipment.
- Having the charges dismissed based on improper procedure by law enforcement during the DUI stop, investigation, or arrest.
- Having the charges dismissed based on the ability to prove that the signs of impairment that the officer witnessed were a result of a medical condition.
It Is Essential to Have the Assistance of a DUI Attorney
DUI is a very serious charge, as a conviction can result in a number of serious consequences, including financial penalties, loss of driving privileges, loss of freedom, and a felony record that can create difficulties in other aspects of your life, including impacting your ability to get a job or to attend college. While a plea bargain can be a useful tool for reducing the impact of a conviction on your life, it is certainly not the only tool available. An experienced DUI attorney can provide you with knowledge of the legal process and information that can help you determine the best option in your case.
If, after carefully reviewing the details of your case, you and your DUI attorney determine that pursuing a plea bargain is the best option for you, he or she can again use experience in the process, attention to detail and sharp negotiation skills to ensure that you are offered a deal that works best with your unique circumstances. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to begin learning more about your options.