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Should I Accept a Plea Bargain for My DUI Case?

When a plea bargain is offered during a DUI case some defendants may be elated while others are wary. Deciding whether or not to accept will be dependent on the details of your case and advice from your lawyer. Work with a skilled Tehama County DUI lawyer to determine what your best course of action is during your DUI case.

What Are the Pros of a Plea Bargain?

There are several advantages to accepting a plea bargain for both the prosecutor and the defendant. Some examples are as follows.

  • Negotiating a plea bargain can allow you to have a reduction of charges. Instead of being found guilty of driving under the influence, you may be able to plead guilty to reckless driving or another lesser offense.
  • If your plea bargain offers a reduction of charges you will also likely be given less severe penalties. The consequences of a DUI charge can be severe so accepting a plea deal can result in less or no jail time, a reduced license suspension, lower fines, etc.
  • You can also avoid an expensive and time-consuming trial. This is beneficial for both defendants who can save time and money and prosecutors who may have an extensive caseload.

What Are the Cons?

While there are advantages to a plea bargain there are also negatives.

  • To accept a plea bargain you have to admit guilt. If you are not guilty or wish to avoid the legal implications of a guilty charge this could be an issue.
  • There is always a chance that you could be found not guilty at trial. If you accept the plea bargain you may never know whether or not you would’ve been found guilty or not guilty.
  • Because you are the defendant you will not have as much negotiating power. The terms of the plea deal, although potentially better than a conviction, could still not be ideal. There may be little or nothing you can do about it.

What Are the Penalties for a DUI in California?

Because of the danger that intoxicated driving poses to the driver and others around them, the penalties associated with DUI charges can be severe. Depending on the specific circumstances of the situation a DUI charge can be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony in California.

Under California law the penalties for a first-offense misdemeanor DUI charge can include:

  • Fines ranging from $390 to $1,000
  • Up to 6 months in county jail
  • License suspension or restriction for 6 to 10 months
  • Mandatory participation in a DUI education program

You can be charged with a felony DUI when your actions lead to the injury of another person. Penalties can include:

  • Fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000
  • Between 16 months and 10 years in state prison
  • License revocation or suspension
  • Mandatory participation in a DUI education program
  • Restitution

Because of the severity of the consequences, many offenders choose to accept a plea bargain when it is offered. Whether or not you should accept the plea will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. Work with an experienced attorney for skilled legal advice on your chances of winning at trial versus the benefit of accepting the plea bargain.