Can I Plea Bargain a DUI Charge To a Lesser Offense?
Plea bargains can be helpful for both defendants and prosecutors. By coming to a fair plea deal, you can avoid the costs of a criminal trial, get your charges or sentence reduced, and avoid losing your driver’s license. Most DUI cases in Oklahoma are resolved through plea bargaining. However, the quality of your plea deal will depend on the skills of the DUI attorney that you hire.
At Cannon & Associates, we understand negotiation. Our Fierce Advocates are highly skilled at negotiating deals with prosecutors and will bring their top-quality skill set to the bargaining table. Our DUI attorneys have secured the best plea deals for our clients and successfully gotten many criminal cases reduced to traffic infractions.
Our law firm cares about protecting your future and we will do everything we can to get your charges reduced or dropped completely. We have a team of highly experienced DUI attorneys that have won multiple awards and recognitions for their unique skill sets. We understand how devastating a criminal DUI conviction can be, and we will do everything in our power to avoid it.
Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation at 405-591-3935.
What Are Plea Bargains?
A plea bargain or plea deal is an agreement between the prosecuting attorney and the defendant. These agreements involve either a charge reduction or sentence reduction in exchange for the defendant pleading guilty or no contest. The sentence reduction could also include special terms in a DUI case, such as no license suspension or a shorter suspension period.
The aim of DUI plea bargaining is to avoid a trial, reduce your sentence, and for the prosecution to ensure that they get some sort of conviction. The type of plea bargain you can get for your case depends entirely on the strength of the prosecution’s case, the circumstances involved in your case, and the negotiation skills of your attorney.
Your lawyer will negotiate with the prosecuting attorney on your behalf to get your charges or penalties reduced. If an agreement is reached, it will be written as a plea agreement and submitted to the Judge. The agreement should contain all terms, including a guilty or no contest plea, the particular charges, and the sentencing. The Judge has the authority to reject or approve the agreement however, they rarely reject plea bargains.
Common DUI Plea Bargains in Oklahoma
There are many different plea deals available in DUI cases, depending on the circumstances of the case. Because DUI offenders are often caught ‘red-handed’ and test over the blood alcohol content limit at a DUI arrest, the prosecution’s case is often quite strong. This means that you need a skilled lawyer to negotiate your DUI plea bargain and get it reduced substantially.
Depending on whether you are seeking a sentence reduction or a charge reduction, the DUI plea bargains available to you could include:
Getting a charge reduction means reducing the DUI case to a lesser criminal offense. Typically, this involves a lighter sentence with lower penalties. If the prosecution’s case is quite weak, your DUI lawyer may get the charges reduced to a non-criminal infraction. Some examples of charge reductions for a DUI include:
- Reckless driving charge – A reckless driving charge is the most common type of plea bargain offered in DUI cases. Depending on the situation, the charge could be a wet reckless or a dry reckless conviction.
- Wet reckless – A wet reckless is a reckless driving charge involving alcohol. This charge has lighter penalties than standard DUI criminal offenses. A drunk or drugged driving charge can be reduced to a wet reckless if the prosecutor and arresting officer cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving under the influence.
- Dry reckless – A dry reckless is lower than a wet reckless as it does not list alcohol in the plea agreement. The penalties for a reckless driving charge include up to ninety days of jail time and a maximum fine of $500. A reckless driving conviction would not affect subsequent DUI offenses.
- Drunk and disorderly – The fines for drunk and disorderly range from $10 to $100 and from five to thirty days of jail time.
- Drinking alcohol in a vehicle – It is illegal to have open alcoholic beverages in your vehicle in Oklahoma. A first DUI case or a weak case could see the charges reduced to drinking alcohol in a vehicle.
- Traffic infractions – Your DUI attorney may negotiate the charge down to a non-criminal moving offense, such as running a red light or speeding. A driving-related offense will go on your driving record and you will receive penalty points. You may also need to attend traffic school and license suspension.
All of these plea agreements would involve a guilty or no-contest plea. If you have a prior conviction for a DUI, you are less likely to get the charges reduced to a non-criminal traffic infraction. However, with the help of a skilled DUI lawyer, it is possible to get the charges reduced substantially.
Sentence reductions are different to charge reductions as the person charged with a DUI pleads guilty or no contest to driving under the influence. In these cases, the lawyer negotiates to get the sentence reduced rather than the charges. This could mean you get no jail time, lower fines, or no license suspension in exchange for a guilty plea.
Getting your sentence reduced is more suitable if you have prior DUI convictions, as prosecutors are more friendly toward first offenders than repeat offenders. You can avoid a harsher sentence for a subsequent DUI offense by pleading guilty and getting a reduced sentence.
Advantages of Plea Bargaining in Oklahoma
Plea bargaining negotiations aim to reduce your DUI offense to a lesser charge. If it was a first-time DUI, there is a chance to get this reduced to a traffic offense rather than a criminal offense. Traffic infractions do not lead to a criminal conviction, and you will not receive a criminal record. A traffic offense in place of a DUI cannot be used as an aggravating factor for subsequent offenses, and will not have the same consequences as a conviction.
Some major advantages of plea bargaining a DUI charge include:
- No mandatory suspension of your driver’s license
- Little or no jail time
- Smaller fines
- No requirement to attend a DUI school
- A traffic infraction that is not a “priorable offense”
- No effect on your insurance premiums
- Less social stigma than a DUI conviction
- No criminal record
The advantages of your DUI plea deal depend on the type of deal that you get and the skills of your defense lawyer. If you can get your charges reduced to a minor traffic infraction, the advantages are much greater than getting a felony reduced to a misdemeanor offense, for example.
Disadvantages of Plea Bargaining in Oklahoma
Although there are immense advantages to plea bargaining in DUI cases, there are, of course, some disadvantages. The major disadvantage of plea bargaining is that you must plead guilty. By pleading guilty to a lesser offense, you are accepting a guilty verdict for that crime and must accept the penalties that go with it.
If you have a capable attorney that reduces the penalties substantially, you can receive much lighter penalties and lower fines. However, you may still receive a criminal record and a priorable offense that will affect any subsequent charges. Further disadvantages of plea bargaining include:
- Rescinding your right to a jury trial
- No chance to appeal the case
- Consequences of a criminal record such as background checks, social stigma, difficulties applying for jobs, difficulties getting loans from banks, and negative effects on child custody cases
It is worth discussing your case with a DUI lawyer before signing off on a plea bargain. They can assess whether the prosecuting attorney has enough evidence against you to secure a conviction and if it is worth taking the case to trial versus accepting a plea agreement.
Ensuring You Get a Fair Plea Deal
Before you plead guilty to criminal charges for a lighter sentence, it is important to ensure that you get the best plea deal possible. As noted previously, the quality of your DUI plea deal depends on the evidence against you and the strength of your defense attorney. Their first job is to try to get your case dismissed, and if that is not possible, then negotiate a plea bargain.
Before negotiating a plea deal, your legal representative should assess the evidence against you, examine the validity of the breathalyzer or blood tests, and thoroughly investigate your case. They should assess the likelihood of you being convicted if the case went to trial, the penalties you would receive upon conviction, and how long the trial would last.
A lawyer should go into negotiations with the prosecuting attorney from an informed position, with the backing of a comprehensive investigation. They will then use their legal knowledge and experience to ensure that you get a fair plea bargain.
If your lawyer has firm evidence to support your innocence, such as an invalid breathalyzer test, they should first try to get your charges dismissed. It is important that your attorney initiates charge dismissal discussions before getting you to agree to a plea deal.
Cannon & Associates – Can I Plea Bargain a DUI Charge To a Lesser Offense?
Most DUI cases in Oklahoma can be plea bargained down to a lesser offense. The type of charge reduction you get depends on whether it is your first criminal DUI charge, whether there were any aggravating factors, the evidence against you, and the quality of legal representation you receive.
Defendants only have one chance to secure a fair plea bargain for their DUI charges, which is why hiring an exceptional attorney is important. The DUI defense attorneys at Cannon & Associates have the experience and skills necessary to get a fair plea deal in your case. We have a team of Fierce Advocates that care about protecting your future.
Our lawyers will investigate your case, assess the arrest records, figure out a strong defense strategy, and negotiate to get your charges reduced or dropped completely. When it comes to negotiation, we have years of experience behind us. Our top priority is ensuring that your future is not affected by a criminal conviction, and we will do everything in our power to prevent this.Call our law firm for a free consultation at 405-591-3935.
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