Plea Bargains in DUI Cases
The outcome of a driving under the influence (DUI) charge may be reached in different ways, depending on the circumstances of the case. Many Florida DUI cases are settled through a plea agreement approved by the court. Plea bargains in DUI cases avoid the need for a trial and generally result in a reduced charge for the defendant. If you are facing DUI charges, a Jacksonville DUI lawyer can negotiate a plea deal that is in your best interest. At Ellis and Bryant, we have the experience to navigate you through the process and assist you in deciding whether to accept a plea offer.Plea Bargains in DUI Cases
A plea bargain is an agreement with the prosecution that allows a person charged with a crime to plead guilty to a lesser offense. If the defendant and prosecuting attorney agree to resolve one or more of the charges through a plea deal, the terms of the agreement must be presented to the court. If the judge approves the plea deal, the defendant then pleads guilty or no contest to a reduced charge and will be subject to sentencing for the lesser offense. By accepting a plea bargain, the defendant waives their right to a trial and their right to appeal.
The advantages and drawbacks of plea bargains will vary in each DUI case. For many people, having some control over the outcome of their case is more beneficial than risking an uncertain verdict and the expense of a trial. The decision to accept or reject a plea bargain in a DUI case should be made after you have discussed the details with your attorney and you understand all of the consequences.Considerations for Plea Bargains in DUI Cases
DUI plea bargains are made on case-by-case basis after evaluating the evidence, any potential defenses, and other relevant factors. Prosecutors are allowed some discretion when negotiating a plea agreement with the defendant. However, their authority may be limited by Florida law and/or the policies and guidelines of their local office. Moreover, a plea deal is only available when the prosecutor handling the case is willing to make one. Nevertheless, prosecutors are usually more open to plea bargaining for reduced charge when they cannot ensure a conviction for a DUI.
A favorable plea bargain is likely possible for someone facing a first-time DUI charge. As long as the DUI offense did not involve aggravating factors such as a high blood alcohol content (BAC) level, bodily injury, property damage, or occur with a minor passenger in the vehicle, the defendant may be able to negotiate for a lesser charge. In some DUI cases, a plea agreement may allow the defendant to plead guilty to a reduced charge for reckless driving.
A reckless driving offense involving alcohol is punishable as a second-degree misdemeanor, with milder penalties for conviction than a DUI. A person who pleads guilty to “wet” reckless driving will face less jail time, a lower fine, and may also avoid having their driver license suspended. In addition to any penalties that are imposed, the court will order the defendant to complete a DUI program substance abuse education course and evaluation. A skilled attorney can provide guidance and protect your interests throughout the process.Discuss Your Case with a Lawyer in Jacksonville
If you have been charged with a DUI, an attorney can advise you of your options and assist you in deciding whether a plea bargain is right for you. At Ellis and Bryant, our team works tirelessly on behalf of our clients to strike favorable plea deals in DUI cases. We can represent people who have been arrested for drunk or drugged driving in Jacksonville, Middleburg, Orange Park, Jacksonville Beach, and many other areas of Clay and Duval Counties. Arrange a free consultation with a skilled lawyer by calling Ellis and Bryant at (904) 551-4120 or contacting us online.