We recently had a user on our DUI forum ask if having a clean record would be a beneficial factor in their current DUI case. And the answer is yes and no.
Clean records and offers made by the prosecutor
If you have a cleaning driving and criminal record, assuming the prosecutor in your state has the right to offer a plea deal, this can weigh heavily in your favor. The prosecutor will review not only the specific factors in your current DUI case but they may also treat your differently if you are not a habitual criminal. While this may generally be true, this may not be true in all states.
What is more likely is that if you have a criminal record you will have a very difficult time getting the prosecutor to negotiate a plea agreement (reduced DUI charges or dismissals of charges). But do not expect a clean criminal record to ensure you will be offered a deal. Keep in mind that state laws will often determine mandatory minimum penalties, and the state may not have the ability to reduce your DUI penalties or charges.
Why won’t my clean record help my case?
Most drunk drivers do not have a criminal record in the most traditional sense. They may have a few driving infractions, but many DUI offenders are productive citizens who simply made a bad decision. So when you come before the judge or the court arguing that you are an outstanding citizen is not generally helpful; in fact, it could be argued by thousands of other DUI offenders.
How can I get my drunk driving charges reduced?
The best way to get your charges reduced is to hire a great drunk driving lawyer and convince the district attorney that you have a great chance to be found not guilty. If you can convince the prosecutor that they may not win in court, than they may be more willing to negotiate a plea agreement.
Making the Prosecutor question their case
The most important evidence in the drunk driving test is the chemical test. So if you can get the court to question that the chemical evidence collected by the state was defective because law enforcement failed to follow rigorous and sytematic procedures to preserve the captured evidence or its equivalent for the use of the defendant, you may make the prosecutor question the strength of their case.
If there is other evidence such as a field sobriety test this may also be called into question if the officer failed to use proper procedures.
What should you do? Talk to a DUI lawyer. There are many components of a drunk driving arrest, and there is a chance that the state does not have a good case against you.