It can be difficult to recover from a DUI conviction, and in many ways, it can affect the rest of your life. If you are arrested for a DUI, knowing the specifics of your case, an experienced DUI attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain, exchanging a guilty or no contest plea for a lesser charge.
Why plea bargains work
In criminal cases where the prosecution and the defense have a similar concerns, they often work together to negotiate a deal, expediting the process. A prosecutor may negotiate a plea deal with a defense lawyer because she does not feel she has the evidence to ensure conviction of the original charge, or because both the prosecution and the defense have a mutual understanding of the case and an interest in an easy trial.
Benefits of a plea bargain
If you are charged with a DUI, some of the advantages of a plea bargain include a reduction in fines and penalties, as well as the potential to have a less serious crime on your record, if at all. If your charge is reduced from a felony DUI to a misdemeanor reckless driving, for example, you can apply for jobs without having to inform employers that you were convicted of a crime.
One notable exception to a reduced charge, in many cases, is the way in which it relates to subsequent offenses. In California, for instance, some DUI charges are reduced to what is referred to as "wet" reckless driving charges. Though a misdemeanor, the charge maintains that alcohol was involved in the incident, and if you are charged with a DUI again, it will count as a second offense, according to the Shouse Law Group.
Penalties of a lesser charge
Although following a plea bargain you may be charged with a lesser offense, some of the penalties may remain the same at your sentencing. While fines, jail time and probation periods will likely be reduced (most plea bargains eliminate jail time altogether), other sentence requirements, like participation in alcohol awareness classes and community service hours, may remain the same.
Examples of lesser charges
Depending on the nature of your arrest, the type of plea bargain will vary. Some DUI charges are dropped to misdemeanor reckless driving charges, but the process is different depending on the protocols of your state. In California, for instance, there are a number of typical lesser charges that are bargained, including wet reckless driving (involving alcohol), dry reckless driving (not involving alcohol) and drunk in public.
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Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “I went to a party the other night and drank too much. I was arrested later that night and the arrest is my third Texas DUI. Am I going to jail? What other Texas DUI penalties will I face?”