After you’ve been arrested for DUI, you’re likely going to discuss your charges with the prosecution. The prosecutor will discuss making things easier for everyone by having you agree to a plea bargain. This may leave you wondering if plea bargains work and if they’re beneficial.
To fully understand whether accepting a plea bargain is good or bad, you need to know their purpose, how they work, and why prosecutors suggest them. Our lawyers explain what plea bargains are and how they can affect your DUI case.
Why Plea Bargains Are Common
The criminal justice system is overloaded with many cases every year. Because of this, prosecutors often use plea bargains to secure convictions. According to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), only 2% of felony cases ever go to trial in California.
Plea bargains relieve the strain on the legal system by offering alternatives for both the defense and the prosecution to settle out of court.
Who Initiates a Plea Bargain?
Plea bargains can be initiated from either side. Both the prosecution and the defense can bring up a plea bargain at any time before the trial. Once an acceptable plea bargain gets reached, it’s up to you to either accept it or reject it and go to trial or renegotiate the terms further.
Should I Accept a Plea Bargain?
If prosecutors set up plea bargains, are they really worth it? This honestly will depend on your circumstances. For example, if you got arrested for a serious DUI infraction, it might be better to accept a plea bargain instead of going to court.
Juries are often unpredictable. Even if you believe that you have an ironclad defense, there’s still no guarantee that your trial will end up with the result you wanted. Taking a plea bargain can help you avoid strict penalties. Before you accept any plea bargain, it’s best to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Types of Plea Bargains for DUI Cases
Plea bargains typically require defendants to enter a guilty or no contest plea to the initial charge. However, you may have various charges available to you during the negotiations you can plead down to.
If you get arrested and charged for a DUI, the prosecution is likely to push you towards agreeing to a plea bargain for the charge. However, depending on the evidence and strength of your defense, they may not offer much in terms of concessions.
However, the unique factors of your case and your defense can affect what you ultimately get out of a plea to DUI. You may be able to reduce or eliminate jail time, pay out less money in penalties, or get your license back earlier than usual. You may also be able to reduce the penalties of the charge by agreeing to a “simple” DUI rather than one with aggravating factors.
A wet reckless is a lesser charge that can only be obtained through a plea bargain. It is a lesser charge than a DUI, which means that it comes with less severe penalties. Compared to a DUI, a wet reckless conviction comes with less jail time, smaller fines, and no mandatory license suspension from the court.
While the penalties for a wet reckless charge are less harsh than a DUI, it does count as a DUI for later charges. DUIs are “priorable” offenses in California, meaning that past convictions call for enhanced sentences. The more DUIs or wet reckless convictions you have on your record, the worse the penalties you face.
In the context of a DUI arrest, a reckless driving conviction under California Vehicle Code § 23103 is called a dry reckless conviction. It comes with a smaller fee and no mandatory jail time or license suspension. The charge does add two points to your license record, which can impact your insurance costs. But it is typically less severe than having a DUI on your record.
How A DUI Lawyer Helps Improve Your Plea Bargain
While there are various options to resolve your DUI case, what you can get depends on how well you negotiate with the prosecution. On your own, the prosecutor might offer you the maximum possible punishment for the charge and refuse to deal for a lesser penalty or charge.
Having a Los Angeles DUI lawyer by your side improves your negotiating position. When you hire a DUI lawyer, they evaluate the case against you for any potential weaknesses. The weaker the case against you, the less likely the prosecution is to get a conviction at trial. As the likelihood of the prosecution winning at trial decreases, you will likely get a better plea bargain.
What a DUI Lawyer Can Do for You
When you hire a DUI lawyer, they will:
- Check to see how close your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is to the legal limit.
- If the officer had probable cause to initiate the arrest
- Evaluate how the chemical test got administered.
- Look for potential alternative explanations for a high BAC, such as health conditions or a rising BAC.
Any of these factors can substantially impact the prosecution’s ability to secure a conviction. Your lawyer will use this information to get you a better charge, making the plea bargain work in your favor.
Contact a DUI Lawyer Today
DUI laws in Los Angeles can be challenging to understand. If you lack the legal experience to move forward with your case, you should quickly get in touch with a DUI attorney. Don’t wait until the last minute to start fighting back. You should get a free consultation from an experienced and reputable law firm that specializes in these cases at the bare minimum.