What You Need to Know About Accepting Plea Bargains for DUI
The Waltman Law Firm discusses plea bargains for DUI, how does it work? Can this be negotiated, if I make a deal, am I already guilty? Get to know more.
DUI Charges and Plea Bargains
A DUI conviction can lead to severe penalties and cost you your freedom. However, blindly accepting a plea deal is not necessarily the right path either. Sometimes a DUI plea deal doesn’t give you an advantage over going to court.
It is essential to go through the DUI plea bargain process with a defense attorney.
Your attorney can help you decide whether the deal is in your best interest. If you are in this position, consider consulting a DUI lawyer before you take or reject a DUI plea bargain.
Common Plea Bargains for DUI
Plea deals in DUI cases are sometimes beneficial to all parties involved.
The prosecution avoids the uncertainty they may face if your case goes to trial. As a defendant, you may save time and other resources you would have used if the DUI case went to trial.
However, a plea is not always the right thing to do as it can have future consequences.
There are various DUI plea bargains that you may be offered. The most common plea bargains are described below.
Pleading Guilty to Driving Under the Influence
How could pleading guilty help your case? Well, your DUI lawyer may look at the police report and realize that there is a substantial amount of evidence against you if the case goes to trial.
In that case, your DUI lawyer may encourage you to plead guilty to driving under the influence or with an alcohol level above the legal limit to save you time and money.
Once you plead guilty, your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor to get you the most favorable outcome. In some cases, your charge can be reduced from a felony DUI to a misdemeanor DUI which carries reduced DUI penalties.
Settling for a Wet Reckless Charge
This plea bargain is where you plead guilty to a reduced charge of a wet reckless charge. A wet reckless charge is an alcohol-related reckless driving charge.
A wet reckless conviction can be better than a DUI charge for several reasons. These include no mandatory DMV license suspension and shorter alcohol education classes.
Settling for a Dry Reckless
This can be a great plea, if you are able to get it. A dry reckless DUI refers to a non-alcohol-related reckless driving case. Why is this ideal?
Firstly, a dry reckless deal is not treated as a “priorable” offense. In other words, if you are arrested for another DUI in the future, that charge will be treated as your first DUI.
Secondly, you typically only pay a fine and are placed under probation. However, the judge may order you to also attend alcohol education classes.
Thirdly, you won’t have to worry about the stigma of DUI because reckless driving cases are not frowned upon in the same way that drinking-related offenses are.
Exhibition of Speed
If the case against the defendant is extremely weak, it is possible you could be offered a bargain of pleading guilty to the exhibition of speed. This depends on how good your criminal defense lawyer is at poking holes in the police report.
You will be required to pay a fine and attend alcohol education classes in some cases.
This is the most minor charge you can get!
To get a traffic infraction deal, there would have to be many errors in the police procedure when you are arrested, extremely insufficient evidence of the DUI, or some other glaring issue with the case.
You will typically pay lower fines for a traffic infraction than in the other types of plea deal. In addition, you usually are not required to attend alcohol education classes, and the charge typically does not appear on your criminal record.
DUI Plea Bargaining
After weighing the evidence in your case, your attorney may advise that taking a plea deal is a good move.
Your attorney then goes through the plea bargaining process with the prosecution to get you the best deal. Make sure not to plead guilty before the plea deal goes through!
Remember that there is a cost in time and money if the case reaches a jury trial. Therefore, if your attorney advises you that you can get a good DUI plea deal, you should consider taking it.
Can You Plea Bargain a DUI?
You can get a plea bargain for various criminal offenses, including a DUI charge. You will avoid a jury trial and save time and money.
However, the prosecution team may still only offer you an unfavorable deal, such as a drunk driving plea deal, even if the case against you is weak.
That is why you should not go through the terms of your deal without an attorney. Your attorney may realize that the prosecutor’s case is weak, so your case is likely to be dismissed at trial anyway.
The Waltman Firm has represented many clients in DUI plea bargains, and we understand Georgia’s DUI laws. We will give your case our full attention and look for any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to get you a better deal.
When Does Prosecution Engage in Plea Bargain?
In most cases, the prosecution may offer you a plea bargain if they don’t have a strong case against you.
You may also be offered a plea bargain on your first DUI charge because the criminal justice system is not just for punishing offenders but also for correcting and deterring a defendant from making the same choice in the future.
Besides taking a plea deal, your DUI lawyer can advise you to plead guilty or no contest in front of a judge for a reduced sentence or other penalties.
Can DUI Charges be Dropped in Plea Bargain?
Your DUI charges can be dropped or reduced depending on various factors.
The primary factor is the weight of the prosecution’s evidence against you. Additionally, your DUI attorney’s bargaining skills can also determine whether you get an acceptable plea deal.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most common type of plea bargain?
Charge bargaining is the most common plea bargain. A defendant facing a felony DUI charge can be offered a reduction to a less severe misdemeanor DUI, with lesser penalties or fines.
How do you negotiate a plea bargain?
Your defense team negotiates with the prosecution to settle the case without a jury trial. The prosecution presents their deal which your team can accept or bargain for a better deal.
What is the downside of plea bargains?
If you plead guilty, you must admit guilt. So you will not have the chance to defend your innocence in the future.
What type of plea is most similar to a guilty plea?
A no-contest plea is similar to a guilty plea, except that the defendant accepts a conviction or punishment without pleading guilty in a no-contest plea.