If you are found guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) in California, the consequences you could face could have a devastating impact on your life. Fortunately, you may be able to avoid the fallout of a guilty verdict by working with the state’s prosecuting attorney to obtain a plea agreement.
Your Los Angeles DUI lawyer can help you determine whether the plea bargain presented to you is in your best interests or whether bringing your case to trial could produce a more favorable outcome.
Can DUI Charges Be Reduced in a Plea Bargain?
There are several ways in which DUI charges can be reduced in a plea agreement with the state’s prosecuting attorney. Some of the more common types of DUI charge reductions include:
- Traffic infractions – The state’s prosecuting attorney is least likely to offer a traffic infraction as part of a plea agreement unless they are certain that a DUI charge will not return a guilty verdict. Traffic and factions are not considered criminal offenses, so if the prosecuting attorney offers a plea deal for a DUI involving two infractions, one of these infractions will likely be considered a moving offense and the other will require the California Department of Motor Vehicles to put points on your driving record.
- Drinking alcohol in a vehicle – it is against the law to consume alcoholic beverages in a vehicle, but getting your drunk driving charges reduced to drinking alcohol in a vehicle is more favorable. This is a non-criminal infraction, typically only punishable by a small fine that will not add points to your driving record or impact your criminal history.
- Being drunk in public – When you were obviously under the influence of alcohol, but the state is not certain they can prove that you were in control of or driving the vehicle, they may be willing to reduce your charges to a drunk and public charge. This is a misdemeanor offense but will also not lead to many driving-related penalties, as a drunk in public charge is not a driving-related offense.
- Exhibition of speed – Exhibition of speed agreements are less common in DUI cases and are only typically offered when the prosecution‘s case against you is weak. Exhibition of speed charges are misdemeanors that do not typically involve considerable fines, probation, or jail time.
- Dry reckless – A dry reckless involves a DUI being reduced to a reckless driving charge. There is no mention of drugs or alcohol in a dry reckless conviction.
- Wet reckless – A wet reckless involves a DUI being reduced to a reckless driving charge involving alcohol. This is considered a priorable offense.
What Are the Common Types of Plea Bargains?
You may have previously thought you understood how plea bargains worked, but when you have the opportunity to enter into one, you may be surprised. For example, did you know there are multiple types of plea bargains you could enter into? Generally, a plea agreement will involve getting your charges reduced or your sentence reduced.
To get your charges reduced, you may need to be prepared to plead guilty to a lesser offense. For DUI cases, for example, instead of being charged with a DUI, you might agree to plead guilty to a wet reckless instead. This is essentially a reckless driving charge involving alcohol as opposed to a DUI charge. Lesser charges often carry lighter penalties and can, therefore, have a less significant impact on your life.
Getting your sentence reduced is entirely different. Here, you may be willing to plead guilty or no contest to driving under the influence. However, in exchange for doing so, the penalties you receive may be far less than they would have been without the plea bargain in place. This way, you have a better idea of what your sentence will be there than you would if you were to be found guilty at trial.
What Are the Advantages of Plea Bargains?
Although you may be hesitant to enter into a plea agreement, especially if you are innocent of the charges against you, there are many advantages to plea bargains that you need to consider.
First, you will already know in advance what your sentence will be if you are going to obtain a sentence reduction as opposed to a charge reduction. This certainty can prove valuable when so much is on the line. The advantages of charge reductions are even more substantial. Some of the benefits of plea agreements involving charge reductions include:
- Not being required to attend DUI school
- Not having your driver’s license suspended or revoked
- Having to pay less or no fines
- Not being required to spend any significant amount of time in jail
- Not facing increases to your auto insurance premiums
- The charge not being considered a “priorable” offense
Should You Go to Trial or Seek a Plea Bargain?
It is difficult to say whether you should accept a plea bargain or bring your DUI case to trial. Your attorney will need to carefully examine the factors in your case to determine how to best approach your defense. Some of the factors your attorney will consider include:
- Your tolerance for risk of trial versus the certainty of a plea agreement
- The strength of the prosecuting attorney’s case
- Your criminal history
- How good the plea agreement is considering the other factors in your case
The best way to determine whether a plea agreement is a good option for your case is to review your circumstances with your Los Angeles DUI attorney.
Contact a DUI Lawyer in Los Angeles for Help Today
Plea bargains can be a great way for those accused of DUIs to avoid the devastating penalties associated with a conviction. But before you accept a plea agreement offer, make sure you review it with your Los Angeles DUI lawyer.
Schedule a confidential consultation as soon as possible so you can put this DUI experience behind you and get back to your life.