Do's And Don'ts of Pleading to DUI Charges
If you're being accused of driving under the influence, then how you plead to charges, what you do and don't do, is important. And it merits a closer look.
Do Not Plead Guilty
You should prepare a defense. You should hire an experienced lawyer. Why not simply plead guilty to the charges? You are accepting the maximum penalties; the cliché throwing yourself to the wolves comes to mind. You can almost always find some flaws in the prosecution's case. A successful defense can, at a minimum, lessen the penalties you face.
Do Hire a Lawyer
A DUI lawyer is essential. By DUI we are focusing on a specialist, someone who only helps defend those charged with drinking or abusing drugs and driving. You may have the opportunity to hire a less experienced lawyer for cheaper or one who does not specialize, but you should always consult with someone who is an expert and charges a professional fee. While you do not need the highest priced lawyer, you do need an effective one.
Don't Admit to Drinking
While it may be too late if you're already charged, if you are curious what happens when you're asked if you've been drinking, here's a tip: do not admit anything. Most lawyers agree you should only give over necessary info to the arresting officer, such as you license and registration. You should also take the breathalyzer, though the other field tests where you count backwards or stand on one leg are optional. If you get the classic, have you been drinking, tell them you will take your right to remain silent. If it's obvious at the trial that you were drinking and driving, even then you can question the charges and the blood alcohol content (BAC) tests.
Do Protect Your Rights
You have rights when you're pleading to charges of DUI. Therefore protect them by hiring a lawyer, by challenging what happened, by pleading not guilty and fighting for lesser charges.
Don't Accept Charges
Never accept the charges made against you. Instead, you and your lawyer should argue the case. You simply do not know what will happen on a given day in the court room. Some new evidence may pop up. The arresting officer may have abused your rights. The breathalyzer may have been used incorrectly. Or perhaps you simply took some medicine and did not know it affected your driving.
Sometimes the prosecution will offer to make a deal with you. It's rare in DUI cases, as usually the defendant pleads guilty or simply has too much evidence to make this possible. But you may have a chance to plead guilty to lesser charges; it does happen.