Driving under the influence (DUI) is a very serious charge and can result in severe consequences personally, professionally, and financially. If you were arrested for DUI it is very important that you take the time to educate yourself on the options available to you, especially if you feel that you should not have been arrested for DUI in the first place. Believe it or not, it is possible to beat a DUI case and have all of the charges dropped.
In order to have a successful outcome in a DUI case you must first understand how DUI defenses work and the options available to you. Of course, in addition to educating yourself it is also important to speak with a California DUI lawyer as soon as possible. This will allow the attorney to examine the evidence, explain any possible defenses (including a plea bargain), and guide you through the legal process. While you may be intimidated by the thought of finding and working with an attorney keep in mind that an experienced California DUI attorney has the knowledge to evaluate drunk driving cases and advise you whether to take your case to trial or whether to accept a plea bargain.
With that said, we would like to take the opportunity to further educate you on plea deals, a possible option in DUI cases that we receive frequent questions about.
What is a plea bargain?
Now that we have briefly touched on the subject of a plea bargain you are probably wondering what a plea bargain is. A plea bargain in a California DUI case takes place between your attorney and the prosecutor and is the negotiated settlement of your case which means you, as the defendant, will know what your sentence is before you plead guilty. This obviously differs from a trial where if you are found guilty sentencing is at the judge’s discretion. Your attorney, as part of your plea bargain, may work to negotiate a reduced sentence, a reduced charge, or a combination of the two.
While it may sound simple, plea deals are not just a matter of pleading guilty and receiving a lesser sentence. Plea deals in DUI cases can come in a variety of forms and often allow for negotiation that is beneficial to and satisfies everyone involved. However, plea deals aren’t simply a matter of pleading guilty and obtaining a lesser sentence. They can come in many shapes and forms and are commonly offered in situations where the prosecution is seeking:
- A guilty plea to a lesser offense
- Dismissal of one charge against the defendant in exchange for a guilty plea to another charge
- Having the defendant agree to specific terms of a sentence in order to avoid having their license suspended.
One aspect of a plea deal that is important to understand is that it is at the discretion of the prosecution as to whether or not to allow it. While plea deals can often be beneficial to both parties, if you are offered a weak plea deal you are under no obligation to accept it. However, If a plea agreement is reached both parties will appear before the judge to present their plan and at this point it is at the discretion of the judge to accept or reject the deal. If the plea deal is not accepted by the judge the case will proceed to trial.
Common DUI plea bargains
The most commonly reduced DUI charges are a “wet reckless” and a “dry reckless” under California Vehicle Code 23103 VC. However, in certain situations it may be possible to reach a plea deal for open container, drunk in public, exhibition of speed and other traffic infractions. Having an experienced and knowledgeable DUI attorney will be helpful in identifying and developing appropriate defenses in your DUI case so that, if possible, lesser charges and sentencing can be sought in a plea deal.
Hiring an attorney for a DUI plea bargain
Always allow your attorney to do the talking. You should never admit guilt during the process of negotiating the terms of the plea deal. It is extremely important to understand that if you admit guilt the prosecution could use that evidence against you while simultaneously withdrawing the plea offer.
If you or a loved one is facing DUI charges and is in need of help with plea bargains we invite you to contact us today at (559) 222-5800 to schedule your free initial consultation.