Plea Bargaining and DUIs

Plea Bargaining and DUIs

The California courts see DUI convictions every day. With strict DUI laws that base convictions around blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, levels, a fraction of a percentage point in a BAC reading can make a huge difference in someone's life. It can mean the difference between thousands of dollars in fines, jail time, a criminal record and all the long-term costs of having a criminal record and higher insurance rates. Getting a DUI conviction comes with a large toll and it some cases; it may be the case that a DUI charge isn't quite appropriate given the circumstances. In some cases where leniency is called for, you may be able to make a plea bargain with the prosecution. In DUI cases, this usually means you accepting a lesser, driving or traffic related charge. For plea-bargaining, it is best to have an experienced DUI defense attorney represent you. They will also be able to evaluate the facts of your case, listen to your story and advise you on the best route of action to get the prosecutor to accept a plea bargain. An experienced attorney will know how to approach a prosecutor about a plea bargain and may even have worked amicably with the prosecutor before, helping other clients walk away with a lesser charge as well. If you choose to have an attorney represent you, he or she will discuss the plea bargain with the prosecutor at your first court hearing. DUI plea bargaining may vary from state to state so if your DUI occurred outside of California, consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney regarding your options as an out of state offender. Remember, a plea bargain isn't about just so you can walk away with a lesser charge after a DUI arrest, but also so a resolution can be reached between the two parties involved; you and the criminal court system. The prosecution also wants to make sure the plea bargain will not be a burden to society; if it appears unlikely you will learn from this mistake and not be a DUI recidivist, they may not accept your plea bargain. A plea bargain can work in favor of both you and the courts. Because of high DUI rates, California courts can be overwhelmed with DUI offenders. Each offender costs the courts precious resources to convict you and enforce your sentence. Mandatory and automatic penalties for every DUI offender may placate anti-drunk driving activists and those seeking a more controlled California and safer roads but these penalties are sometimes inappropriately harsh for the honest people and good citizens out there whose BAC level was just at the legal limit. The legal BAC level limit in California is .08% for drivers over 21 who are not driving a commercial vehicle nor are on probation for a prior DUI offense. If your BAC level is .08% at the time of arrest but there was no property damage or accident involved, no one got hurt and you have no priors, the prosecution may accept your plea bargain of a wet reckless charge. This plea bargain is used mainly for DUI cases. A wet reckless charge is like any other reckless driving charge however it will be noted whether or not alcohol was involved. It is a misdemeanor charge and will go on your criminal record. It isn't a civil compromise or a way to settle "out of court". It is simply a lesser criminal charge in terms of penalties and sentencing. In rare cases, you may be able to plead guilty to a simple traffic violation in lieu of a DUI or wet reckless, however these cases are not the norm. If you are being charged with a DUI with sentencing enhancements, from causing an accident or damaging property, you may be able to get the prosecution to accept a plea bargain of just a DUI without the enhancements. Again, an experienced DUI defense attorney will be able to evaluate the facts of your case and recommend a route of action. If the circumstances were just right, you may be granted your plea bargain in efforts to punish you appropriately to your offense and lessen the load on overworked courts. A plea bargain may not always be in your best interest. Make sure you have a professional advise you on whether or not a plea bargain is right for your case.

If you are facing DUI charges in Tulare, Kings or Fresno counties, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can help. Experienced in DUI and criminal defense, attorney Christopher Martens can fight aggressively for you to ensure you have every possible chance of a plea bargain. Contact our offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensLaw@gmail.com to discuss your options for defending your case.

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