A driving under the influence (DUI) plea bargain is a deal made between the prosecution and the defense, in which the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge than the original DUI. For instance, the defendant may plead guilty to a “wet reckless” and agree to complete community service and an alcohol diversion program.
Your attorney will further advise you of your DUI plea bargain options. Generally, you will need to make a decision on whether to take your case to trial by judge or jury, or you could negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. Negotiations may result in a reduced charge or sentence, or both in exchange for a guilty plea or a no contest plea.
Typically, reduced charges are preferable, especially if it means you will not have a DUI on your record. Reduced charges are not as common as a reduced sentence, and may be offered if your blood alcohol concentration was close or below the legal limit. An example of this would be a wet reckless. If you are offered a reduced sentence, you may pay less in fines, avoid jail time, and your license suspension may be shorter.
It is important to note that there are advantages and disadvantages for reduced charges, and your attorney will best advise you on how to proceed. For instance, a wet reckless in California would be treated as a prior DUI conviction on your record if you were to get a subsequent DUI. Your insurance company may also treat the wet reckless as a DUI. which can result in higher insurance premiums.
Plea bargains are made for many reasons, like as a preventative measure to trial, if the prosecution feels its case is weak, or to allow the prosecutor and the defense attorney to work out a deal and control the charges instead of involving the judge or a jury.
Most importantly, it can also make the charges less severe. It can allow the defendant to take some punishment, instead of the full extent that would happen if the trial went on and the defendant was found guilty.
Depending on the state, a plea bargain may be made at any time after the arrest, or in some jurisdictions, it may only take place during a certain phase of the criminal process. Any mention of a plea bargain should be discussed with the prosecution, and it’s important to keep in mind that the prosecution has no obligation to offer a plea bargain. So while your lawyer can request a plea bargain, it doesn’t mean you will be given one.
If you have been charged with a DUI, it is a good idea to contact a DUI/DWI lawyer immediately. A DUI conviction can be expensive, it will give you a criminal record, and it can affect future job prospects. Depending on your case, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain, or in the best case scenario, get your charges dismissed.