A plea bargain can help you reach your goals, whether avoiding jail time, a higher fine, or the expense of a trial. It’s an agreement (pending a judge’s approval) that if you plead guilty to a charge, the prosecutor will drop other charges or agree to a particular sentence. Very few DUI cases go to trial. They’re either dismissed early or resolved through a plea bargain.
What are the Benefits of a Plea Bargain?
These agreements usually involve a guilty plea to a less serious charge with a reduced sentence. The benefits of doing so may include one or more of the following:
- Avoid a license suspension
- Remove the uncertainty of the situation. You know what’s ahead of you and can plan to do what’s needed to put this behind you
- Avoid the stigma of a DUI conviction that may affect your ability to rent a home or get a job
- Avoid DUI educational instruction
- Avoid the costs in time, energy, emotion, and money that come with a trial
Although a plea bargain won’t eliminate your burden, it will reduce it and should help it to be more manageable.
What Factors Can Help Me to Get a Positive Plea Bargain?
It depends on your situation, but you’re more likely to get a better outcome in the following situations:
- We find severe problems with the prosecution’s case and clearly show them. They’re more likely to want to avoid using their resources on a trial in which there’s a good chance you’ll be found not guilty. They’ll likely cut their losses by agreeing to a resolution that includes you pleading guilty to a lesser charge with a reduced sentence.
- You make good-faith efforts to show this won’t happen again. You enroll in a substance abuse program and actively participate. You address the issues that led to you driving under the influence.
- This is your first offense.
- You didn’t cause an accident, injure anyone, or have a child in your vehicle.
- You weren’t combative and you cooperated with the police.
We put ourselves in the shoes of the prosecution, look at your situation, and will advise you on what we think will put you in a good position. Given the circumstances surrounding the arrest, we will review all aspects of your case and help to negotiate the best possible outcome for you.
What are Lesser Charges That May be Part of a Plea Bargain?
In Colorado, there are several charge reduction options in DUI cases, including:
- Reckless driving: This is a serious charge, but it is not as damaging to your life as a DUI conviction. Driving is reckless if you’re willfully (but not necessarily intentionally) disregarding the safety of others. You’re aware of the risks you’re taking but driving dangerously anyway. Pleading guilty usually results in lower fines, less or no jail time, and possibly avoiding license suspension.
- Exhibition of speed: You’re driving over the speed limit and or racing another vehicle on a public roadway. This is a traffic misdemeanor, and there’s usually no jail time if it’s part of a plea bargain agreement.
- Drinking or having an open container in your vehicle: It’s illegal for you and your passengers to have an open container while in motion. The penalties include fines and/or fees.
- Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI): This is still a serious charge, but it can have less strict penalties than a DUI, including that it may not automatically result in revocation of your driver’s license.
You need not be guilty of a reduced charge to plead guilty. You may not have been speeding before you were pulled over, but pleading guilty can resolve the charges if you’re willing to deal with the penalties that come with it.
Get Help Resolving Your DUI Charges
Attorney Kevin Churchill has defended clients facing DUI charges for over 22 years. If you are facing this situation, and want to know what comes next and how to get the best outcome, contact Churchill Criminal Defense. Schedule a free consultation by contacting us at (303) 832-9000 or completing our online contact form today. We are always here to help.