Is Accepting a Plea in a DUI Case Always the Best Option?
Whether or not a reduction to a lesser offense from the DUI-DWI charges is in your best interest depends on your particular situation. A DUI-DWI specialist knows not only the law and the court in which your charges are pending, but also the likely results of your case. Just as importantly, your attorney has taken the time to get to know you and your personal or work situation.
Some people, due to high security jobs, cannot have even a first lifetime DUI-DWI on their criminal and driving record. A second or subsequent DUI-DWI conviction on your criminal record can be devastating to your life regardless of your job.
This may be because having such a conviction costs you your job, limits or takes away your right to drive, restricts you from traveling or limits your ability to care for your family. Your criminal defense specialist can also counsel you about the benefits and the detrimental aspects of delaying the start of your trial, if this option exists in your case.
For some people, accepting a reduction in your case to an offense like reckless driving may also not be in your best interest. In a state that has what is called a “wet” reckless law, any DUI-DWI that gets reduced to a reckless driving offense may cause a driver’s license suspension, revocation or restriction. For professionals (e.g., doctors, registered nurses, chiropractors, CPAs, dentists, attorneys) reduced pleas (such as a “wet” reckless in California) may trigger “fitness” hearings that delay or prevent being licensed (or renewing a license) in a particular state.
Your DUI attorney may feel that you have an excellent chance to win the DUI-DWI case against you. While this can never be promised with certainty, part of the reason you hired a DUI-DWI specialist is to obtain this type of expertise. The prosecution may offer you a plea to a reduced criminal charge because he or she knows the DUI-DWI case against you is weak, or is missing some critical element or witness.
DUI penalties, such as the threat of more lengthy jail time, are a common concern for most people facing drunken driving charges. For some people, going to jail or having to serve mandatory community service for a lengthy period of time could be devastating. For others, even being on probation can end their job.
For a DUI conviction of any misdemeanor offense (no matter what the misdemeanor), you are at least theoretically facing some jail time. You could face exactly the same punishment if you accept a guilty plea to a lesser charge rather than being found guilty on a DUI-DWI charge. It could be that a negotiated plea to another serious offense offers you no real benefit.
Your DUI-DWI specialist will be best able to recommend which alternative is best for you.