Plea Bargaining in DUI Cases

Phoenix Lawyer for Drunk Driving Defense

After being arrested for a DUI, you'll need to go before the judge for an arraignment, which is an appearance in court in which you can be formally charged with a crime and asked to respond to the charges. Your response is called a "plea." Sometimes it is appropriate to plea bargain when you're faced with DUI charges. If you want an experienced and aggressive defense attorney on your side for plea bargaining in a drunk driving case, you should consult Phoenix DUI lawyer James E. Novak. Mr. Novak is a former prosecutor turned criminal defense attorney who understands how to negotiate with prosecutors, and knows when the prosecution's case is strong enough that a plea bargain is appropriate.

Plea Bargaining in DUI Cases

Plea bargains are voluntary agreements to avoid trial conditioned on a particular sentence. They usually involve either a reduction in sentence or a reduction in charges. When a sentence reduction is offered, this usually means you'll have to plead guilty to driving under the influence in exchange for certain penalties that are agreed upon. Charge reductions are based on pleading guilty to a lesser charge after negotiation. This, too, usually involves less harsh penalties and a charge that carries less stigma. The court must approve the plea bargain — plea bargaining isn't only dependent on a prosecutor and defense attorney's agreement. In order to get a plea bargain, you would need to plead guilty or nolo contendere, which means no contest.

The benefits of plea bargaining include less serious penalties like a reduction in jail time, dismissal of charges or reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor charge. It can be advantageous to plead guilty to a sentence reduction when you know in advance what the sentence will be, and the sentence is more lenient than what you would get by taking the case to trial. The strength of the prosecutor's case is a key factor in plea bargaining. Plea bargains for lesser charges are only appropriate where the state doesn't have enough legal or factual basis for a DUI charge.

Sometimes, it is appropriate to bring various pretrial motions for the purpose of creating conditions more conducive to plea bargaining in DUI cases. For example, if you can get certain evidence suppressed or file a motion in limine to stop specific damaging testimony, your case may be made stronger or, at the very least, our position when plea bargaining will be stronger.

Wet reckless is a plea that might be used if you are arrested and charged with driving under the influence and are able to obtain a charge reduction. Wet reckless is not a separate charge, but may be appropriate when prosecutors are open to a defendant pleading to a crime that's less serious than a DUI. It is a charge that means that you recklessly drove and that alcohol was involved. Generally, this type of bargain is struck when there are some factors in a defendant's favor. For example, if your chemical test shows a blood alcohol content of less than .08 or there are improprieties associated with the chemical test these may be reasons a prosecutor would be open to bargaining.

Generally, you don't want to try to arrange a plea bargain on your own. In the effort to bargain, you may make admissions about what happened that could be used against you if a bargain isn't reached. An experienced lawyer can tell you how feasible it is to fight a DUI charge. If the prosecutor has strong evidence that you had a high blood alcohol concentration or were very drunk, it may not be possible to secure a plea deal.

DUI Defense Attorney Serving Phoenix Residents

Plea bargaining in DUI cases can be a good fit for some defendants, and an experienced DUI lawyer can assess whether it’s an option you should explore. James E. Novak is a former prosecutor who represents criminal defendants throughout the Phoenix area including in Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, and throughout Maricopa County. Contact James Novak at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form.

Client Reviews
I was facing criminal charges with three priors in my history. Mr Novak was very helpful and got me a lighter sentence than I probably deserved. He is a great attorney and I would highly recommend him. A. T.
James worked tirelessly behind the scenes with the prosecution, to decrease my son’s charges to a more reasonable penalty. I could not have asked for a better, more professional attorney. He treated my son with the utmost respect and walked him through every step of a very difficult situation. S. G.
Attorney Novak did an outstanding job defending my son. Due to his extensive professional background within the court system, he was successfully able to defend my son during a very difficult time for my family. I highly recommend Attorney James Novak for your legal needs. T. G.