Most driving under the influence (DUI) cases are resolved through a plea bargain. Essentially, a plea bargain is when the defendant agrees to plead no contest or guilty in exchange for more lenient penalties. Here is what you should know about a DUI plea bargain.
When Can You Receive a DUI Plea Bargain?
Generally, a plea bargain can occur at any stage during the DUI process. In fact, we’ve seen cases where the prosecution offered a plea bargain in the middle of the trial. However, the vast majority of plea bargains occur before a case goes to trial. Since the prosecutor wants to resolve their case as soon as possible, they’ll typically offer a plea bargain early on.
Most DUI attorneys shy away from making a plea agreement on the first day of court. This is because the defense wants to spend some time reviewing the evidence and police report in an effort to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. If the defense can show the difficultly in proving the DUI charge in court, then the prosecution is more likely to offer a better plea bargain, which means heavily reduced penalties or an outright dismissal.
DUI Plea Bargain Types
The penalty ranges for DUI conviction vary by state. For the most part, these penalties depend on the number of DUI convictions you have. For instance, California courts impose a fine of $390 to $1,000 for first-time DUI conviction, as well as up to six months of jail time. So, a prosecutor in California may offer a plea bargain to a first-time offender at the lower end of that range — perhaps $400 in fines and no jail time.
Another possibility is that the prosecution offers a plea bargain for a less serious charge. In cases of DUI, the less serious charge is most often reckless driving. Such a plea bargain, bargaining down from DUI to reckless driving, is known as a “wet reckless.” This type of plea bargain is a great deal for the defendant. The prosecution will typically offer a “wet reckless” when there is insufficient evidence behind the DUI charge.
Getting the Best DUI Plea Bargain
While you are bargaining over your future, in order to secure a good DUI plea bargain, you need to view it like haggling over the price of a car. In essence, plea bargains are a simply transaction where the normal rules of business are in effect.
As in any negotiation, to obtain a favorable outcome, you need to be in a position of strength. Typically, the prosecution’s first plea offer is never a good one. It’s usually no more than the standard penalty for your charge.
In order to obtain a better DUI plea bargain, you will need some sort of leverage, which can come in the following forms:
- Evidence proving the inaccuracy of the breath or blood test
- Evidence demonstrating false or skewed statements from law enforcement
- Evidence showing a violation of your rights during your arrest or questioning
All of the approaches above require actual evidence or a vast knowledge of the DUI legal system. This is exactly why you need a seasoned DUI attorney fighting by your side. An effective attorney knows how to flex their strengths in order to put pressure on the prosecutor. The more effective your attorney, the more likely you are to receive a fair plea bargain.
Contact a Skilled DUI Attorney Now
Since conviction for DUI can bring severe penalties that will affect your long-term future, you need to contact an experienced DUI attorney. To help your chances of obtaining a favorable DUI plea bargain contact the knowledgeable legal team at Samuel Louis Sachs Esq LLC today.