What is a DUI Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain is a deal offered to the defendant when they have been charged with DUI in California. The deal is a give-and-take exchange: they decide to a lesser sentence, and you concur to no contest, which means to plead guilty. This type of agreement is known as a plea bargain.
The initial plea bargain offer that you are given by a prosecutor is not normally a good deal, because the prosecution may be trying to see if you’ll be willing to plead guilty to a severe sentence. In other situations, a plea bargain can be highly favorable, specifically if you have a skilled DUI lawyer on your side.
Instances of theoretically favorable plea bargains are:
- You were arrested for a serious charge, such as a DUI accident that resulted in an injury, but prosecution offers to decrease the charge to a normal DUI.
- Prosecution approves charge reduction to reckless driving.
- Prosecution decides to agree on a sentence that includes no mandatory jail, or they agree to drop a sentence enhancement.
These plea bargain outcomes might turn out to be positive for your case but aren’t as beneficial as it can be to win your case entirely. This is the grey area of plea bargains and where they become complex because they are only a good option if you don’t believe you have a chance of winning in court. For this reason, it’s imperative to run your case by a DUI lawyer prior to agreeing to any kind of deals.
Wet Reckless Plea Bargain
After an arrest for DUI, “wet reckless” a plea bargain that is used to reduce a charge to an offense that is not quite as serious. The nickname is given to situations that concern drugs or alcohol and reckless driving.
Wet reckless is only permitted when the prosecution agrees to reduce the DUI charge to the misdemeanor.
Advantages & Disadvantages Of A Wet Reckless Plea Bargain
There are clear advantages to pleading to a wet reckless charge:
- Reduced penalties;
- Less stigma than a DUI;
- No mandatory ignition interlock; and
- The court will not suspend your driver’s license.
Some disadvantages also exist, and these include:
- Stays on a criminal record for 10 years;
- Still recorded as a prior offense if arrested again for DUI; and
- Points will be taken off your DMV driving record.
Dry Reckless Plea Bargain
The outcome for a DUI offense in California is much better when agreeing to a plea bargain for dry reckless, but prosecutors are not always willing to propose this as an option. An experienced DUI lawyer can increase the likelihood of this being offered if there was an issue with the chemical testing performed or if your BAC was near the legal limit.
Advantages & Disadvantages Of A Dry Reckless Plea Bargain
There are many reasons why a dry reckless charge is considered one of the best plea bargains for DUI. When compared with a DUI conviction, advantages for a dry reckless plea bargain include:
- Does not classify as a DUI on your permanent record;
- Lower fines;
- No jail time or a reduced sentence;
- No required suspension of driver’s license; and
- Consequences don’t become worse with a past DUI.
The only disadvantage to this plea bargain is mandatory alcohol education courses.
Exhibition of Speed Plea Bargain
Exhibition of speed is used frequently as a DUI plea bargain but was initially implemented to penalize highway racers. The law makes it illegal to conduct any kind of race on a California street for any reason. Since speed contests are deemed extremely hazardous, they require penalties that are stricter than those just for speeding.
However, the penalties are not nearly as severe as penalties for a DUI. Though there are many plea bargains that can be offered for DUI, “exhibition of speed” is one of the best outcomes.
Advantages & Disadvantages Of An Exhibition of Speed Plea Bargain
Negotiating a plea for exhibition of speed has numerous advantages when compared with a DUI:
- Jail time is shorter;
- Assigned probation for 1-2 years instead of 3-5;
- Significantly lower fines than DUI;
- Does not show up on your record as a DUI; and
- Does not count as a previous DUI if a subsequent DUI occurs in the future.
A disadvantage includes the fact that points will be added to your DMV record.
Open Container Plea Bargain
It’s against the law to drive a vehicle while a container of alcohol is open. You could face an open container infringement with the possibility of also getting a DUI. After police make a traffic stop by pulling a vehicle over, regardless of whether or not your driving maneuvers caused officers to suspect impairment, police tend to check first for an open alcohol container in the car.
Advantages & Disadvantages Of An Open Container Plea Bargain
While it may be inopportune, a violation for an open container is far less severe than DUI.
As this charge is far less severe than a DUI, the advantages are:
- It classifies as a traffic violation, not a criminal offense;
- No time in jail; and
- No license suspension.
The only disadvantage of an open container plea bargain is the small penalty fine you’ll have to pay. Fortunately, this violation has many more pros than cons.
Traffic Violations Plea Bargain
A DUI is a far more severe charge than a traffic violation. The prosecution usually offers traffic infractions only when they believe police procedure was violated too much at the time of the arrest, or chemical tests were not valid because of improper equipment or a problem with handling at the lab.
Advantages & Disadvantages Of A Traffic Violation Plea Bargain
Traffic violations are normally minor breaches of the law. There are many advantages when it comes to agreeing to a traffic violation plea bargain, such as:
- Traffic violations are not criminal offenses;
- No trial will be required; and
- Traffic violations can be challenged at the traffic clerk’s office.
Disadvantages only include minimal points removed from the driver’s license.
Drinking in a Vehicle Plea Bargain
The charge of consuming alcohol in a car is intended to keep people from drinking an alcoholic beverage in a vehicle on a public road.
This plea is usually agreed upon when the prosecution has a weak case. For example, the driver’s blood or breath test might reveal a BAC that is just slightly over the legal limit.
Advantages & Disadvantages Of A Drinking in a Vehicle Plea Bargain
Drinking in a vehicle is another plea bargain that has many advantages because it is a far less severe charge than DUI. Some of these include:
- No points are added to DMV driving record; and
- It is a non-criminal violation.
One disadvantage is that it can be difficult to convince the prosecution to offer a drinking in a vehicle plea without a skilled lawyer.
Drunk in Public Plea Bargain
It is a misdemeanor crime to be drunk in public. The law punishes any kind of intoxicated actions that put the public at risk or obstructs public roads, paths, or sidewalks. Since the law is somewhat flexible, it can also be used for a plea bargain in DUI cases. There are major benefits when a DUI charge can be reduced to “drunk in public” charge.
Advantages & Disadvantages Of A Drunk in Public Plea Bargain
There are major advantages to pleading guilty to a Drunk in Public misdemeanor instead of to a DUI charge.
- Not a driving-related crime;
- License cannot be taken away; or
- No points will be taken off your license.
A disadvantage is that this plea bargain is typically only offered if it is obvious that you had consumed alcohol but it’s more questionable as to whether or not you were driving.