DUI Plea Bargains
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), there may be options to resolve the charges without a trial. In some situations, a DUI charge may be lowered or dismissed through a plea bargain with the prosecution. Many DUI plea bargains involve pleading guilty to a reduced offense that carries milder penalties, while avoiding the cost and uncertainty of a trial. At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., we can review the facts of your DUI charge and assist you in determining the best course of action. Our St. Petersburg DUI lawyers are prepared to work towards a plea deal that addresses your needs and delivers a fair outcome.DUI Plea Bargains in Florida
In general, a plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecution and the defense regarding the criminal charges against a defendant. Typically, the prosecution agrees to drop one of the charges or reduce the charge to a lesser offense. In exchange, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to the reduced charges. By accepting a plea bargain, the defendant waives the right to a jury trial and the right to appeal the judgment.
After the prosecution and the defendant agree to a plea deal, the parties must present the terms of their agreement to the court for approval. As long as the defendant’s BAC level was less than .15, the court may accept a DUI plea bargain for a reduced offense. It is also important to note, however, that Florida law prohibits certain offenses, such as DUI manslaughter, from being reduced to a lesser charge by plea agreement.
For a defendant facing a first-time DUI in Florida, it may be possible to reduce the charge to reckless driving involving alcohol. Commonly known as a “wet reckless,” the offense is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor and carries significantly milder penalties and fines than a DUI conviction. If the judge approves the plea bargain, the defendant will enter a plea of guilty or, in some cases, no contest. The defendant may be subject to immediate sentencing following a guilty plea.Negotiating a Plea Deal
Plea bargaining in DUI cases requires careful consideration of the facts and evidence of the case, potential defenses to the allegations, the defendant’s driving record and criminal history, and other issues. Prosecutors generally have discretion to enter into plea agreements on a case-by-case basis, but they may be limited by law and by the policies of the local state attorney’s office. Prosecutors tend to be more open to DUI plea bargains when the defendant has no criminal record, and a conviction would be difficult to prove. A DUI lawyer can identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case during negotiations and argue for a favorable plea deal on your behalf.
The pros and cons of plea bargaining will differ in every DUI case. Some people may value the ability to have some control over the process and outcome of their case over the risk of an unpredictable jury verdict and costly trial. Evidence is often an important factor when weighing a plea offer in a DUI case. If the prosecution’s case is weak, it may not be advantageous to agree to a plea deal. A defense lawyer can provide guidance to assist in making an informed decision. The choice of whether to accept or reject a plea bargain, however, is ultimately up to the person facing the charges.Discuss Plea Bargaining with a DUI Lawyer in St. Petersburg
If you have questions about plea bargaining in a DUI case, our St. Petersburg attorneys can help you make an informed decision. At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., we are dedicated to resolving DUIs and other criminal charges quickly and fairly for our clients. We can represent defendants in DUI and drugged driving cases throughout Pinellas County, including Clearwater, Tampa Bay, and St. Petersburg. Arrange a free consultation by calling (727) 286-6141 or contacting us online.