A driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a very serious offense. We’ve all seen the billboards and the ads. You know it’s going to cost you thousands of dollars in legal fees, potentially jeopardize your employment, and publicly embarrass you. But is there something you can do to make the whole thing go away? One of the most common questions we receive on our DUI forum is, “If I have been arrested for DUI is it possible to get the DUI charges reduced or dropped?”
Fighting the DUI Charges
The first step to fighting the DUI charge is to find out what legal defenses you may have to get the DUI charges thrown out of court. For instance, can you prove the DUI office did not have the legal authority to arrest you?
To prove this you will have to show the police officer did not have the right or probable cause to stop your car in the first place. This will be difficult to prove, however, if they have witnessed you committing a crime and then have probable cause or a reasonable belief you are intoxicated.
For example, if you are driving erratically or you have run a red light a police officer may pull your car over. If they then see beer bottles in the car and you have bloodshot eyes they may ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test. If you refuse, they may decide to arrest you and ask you to submit to additional chemical tests. The bottom line- if the police officer stops you, the traffic stop was legal, and subsequent tests reveal you are intoxicated, it will be hard to have your case thrown out.
Challenging other aspects of your DUI charges
If the DUI charges cannot be challenged you may be able to prove other aspects of the case are not valid. Challenges can include questioning the calibration of the DUI testing equipment or the way the police officer administered the field sobriety. These challenges are generally not successful.
DUI Charge reduction options
So what if you cannot get your case thrown out? All hope is not lost. If the state’s evidence against you that you were driving under the influence of alcohol is not too strong, you may be able to lessen the consequences of the offense by negotiating a plea agreement. If successful, the state may be willing to allow you to plead to a less serious offense, such as reckless driving.
In California, for instance, some driving charges may be reduced to a wet or dry reckless charge. If you are charged with a wet reckless charge you generally will not face jail time, although you will still have to pay a fine and attend DUI school.
Can everyone plead their DUI charges down to a lesser offense?
Not everyone will have the option to plead down to a lower offense. For instance, a reduction in DUI charges may not be allowed if you have had multiple DUI arrests or prior convictions. Additionally, if you do decide to plead guilty to a wet reckless charge and you are arrested a second time (within a specified time period) the court may consider your wet reckless conviction as a prior conviction and administer more severe punishment.
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