In some DUI cases, the prosecution will agree to reduce the charge to one or more traffic infractions—simple tickets like speeding. The penalties for these may include nothing more than a fine and some points on your license. If this is possible in your case, it’s a huge advantage over facing a DUI charge.
Why would the prosecution reduce my DUI to a traffic violation?
Prosecutors want to get a conviction in every case, but that’s not always realistic. In some DUI cases there are problems with the evidence, or arrest procedures weren’t followed, making the case against you questionable at best. In these circumstances, the prosecutor will offer a plea bargain. This is a deal where they drop the DUI charge and you agree to plead guilty to a different, less serious charge.
Most plea bargains don’t involve traffic violations at all. It’s more common to be offered a wet reckless deal. However, in cases where a DUI conviction is very unlikely, the prosecution may offer traffic infractions instead—basically just tickets. This is probably the best of all DUI plea deals you can get.
Which specific traffic violations am I likely to get?
The specific infractions could be any run-of-the-mill traffic law. The most common ones include speeding, making an unsafe lane change, and running a stop sign. These are all known as “moving violations” or “movers,” and none of them are specifically connected to alcohol (or drugs) in any way.
Usually the prosecution will want you to plead guilty to two of these violations. The reason for this is that, if you only got one of them, you could choose to go to traffic school to avoid getting any points on your license. But, if you get two violations at once, you can only go to traffic school for one of them. So this setup makes sure you will at least get some points on your license and thus have some consequences (albeit minor ones) for your actions.
This two-infraction plea deal is sometimes called a “pair of movers.”
Why is it better to accept two traffic violations rather than one DUI charge?
DUI is one of the most serious criminal charges involving a vehicle, and penalties are off the charts. By accepting the “pair of movers” deal, you get substantial advantages:
- No jail time
- No license suspension
- Fines are typically far less expensive
- You are not required to attend “DUI school” classes
- No probation
- If you are ever arrested for DUI again, it will count as your first DUI, and you won’t face extra “repeat offender” consequences
Perhaps most importantly, traffic tickets don’t follow you through life the way a DUI does. You’re not likely to be turned down for a job just because you got two traffic tickets. College admissions won’t generally turn you away. And you won’t have the stigma associated with DUI.
How do I know if my DUI can be reduced to traffic infractions?
Traffic infractions are not a common plea bargain for DUI, but you can push for this deal in certain circumstances. Generally, there has to be a strong reason why the prosecutor is unlikely to win in open court. The most common reasons are:
- Police didn’t follow proper procedures. This could include an illegal traffic stop or failure to read you your Miranda warning before questioning you.
- Your breath test/blood test was done improperly. California has strict rules for how officers conduct these tests to make sure the results are reliable. If the rules weren’t followed, the test results may not be strong evidence or could even be thrown out of the case.
- The prosecutor cannot validate your breath test/blood test results. The prosecution has access to their own team of forensic scientists known as criminalists. If the criminalist believes there is an issue with the test results, the prosecutor may decide they have a weak case.
These are the circumstances where it is most likely that you’ll get a good plea bargain like a traffic infraction. But sometimes even a tougher case could get bargained down if you have an experienced lawyer. All plea bargains require understanding the evidence and negotiating with the prosecution, which is why a DUI lawyer makes such a difference in your case.
Have you been charged with DUI? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.