Will a Prosecutor Merge My DUI Charges?
It is very uncommon for you to be facing only a solitary DUI-DWI charge with no other pending charges. If you are, the arrest likely followed a roadblock stop or an accident with no eyewitnesses. Other traffic offenses can be a problem because some of them can carry jail time or longer probation terms.
More commonly, when you are charged with DUI-DWI, you are possibly facing another DUI-DWI charge. Many people are simultaneously charged with both a “DUI per se” count (a blood alcohol above a specified level while operating a vehicle) and a “DUI common law” count (operating a vehicle while your mental or physical faculties are impaired due to being under the influence of alcohol).
You may also be facing a DUI-DWI “drugs,” or a DUI-DWI “combination of alcohol and drugs” charge. This is in addition to whatever traffic violation or violations you were cited for after your traffic stop. Typical traffic offenses may include a lane violation, speeding or not using your turn signals appropriately when making turns or lane changes.
In some negotiated pleas, the prosecution may be willing to “merge” or dismiss the other charges against you in return for your guilty or nolo contendere plea to at least one of the DUI-DWI charges you face. A dismissal means the other charges pending against you are dropped, or not prosecuted against you. “Merger” of an offense generally refers to a lesser offense, such as speeding, being “merged” into the more serious DUI-DWI offense, since driving at high speeds could be an “element” of impaired driving.
Many prosecutors may be willing to merge or dismiss some of your charges. The primary reason for your prosecutor to do this is a desire to close your case without the need for a trial. Certainly, if the prosecution has a rock-solid case, and they feel comfortable of proving every offense, little motivation exists for him or her to offer to merge or dismiss some or all of the less serious offenses. If you have a poor driving history, a build-up of “points” on your driving record may be a strong motivation to seek a merger or dismissal of these other charges.
Thus, it depends on your situation and the specifics of your case as to whether or not trading a dismissal or a merger is good for you. If it is the combined punishment from all of the charges that causes you the greatest fear, then reducing the number of charges against you may be in your best interest. If it is the DUI-DWI conviction that will cause you the most problems, no matter what the other charges against you, then to dismiss or merge the other charges does not make sense in your situation.
Your DUI-DWI specialist will offer guidance to you on this issue, if such an offer is even on the table. Your attorney will know the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and will know your job situation. He or she can best explain the benefits and ramifications of the different options.