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DUI Plea Bargains

At any time prior to trial, a DUI case may be resolved through a plea bargain between the government and the defendant. The defendant in a plea deal agrees to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge than one for which the defendant could stand trial ("wet reckless," for example). Defendants who enter a guilty plea often agree to complete an alcohol diversion program or some kind of community service. For both the government and the defendant, the decision to enter into (or not enter into) a plea bargain may be based on the seriousness of the alleged crime, the strength of the evidence in the case, and the prospects of a guilty verdict at trial. In fact, plea bargains are actually encouraged in the criminal court system as a whole and have become something of a necessity due to overburdened criminal court calendars and overcrowded jails.

What Kind Of Plea Bargain Might Be Made?

To illustrate how a "plea bargain" might be reached in a DUI case: suppose Dan is arrested and charged with DUI. A "plea bargain" might be reached in Dan's case in one of two ways:

  1. The prosecuting attorney handling the case approaches Dan and his attorney, and offers to allow Dan to plead guilty to a less serious charge, such as reckless driving or an "open container" violation; OR
  2. The evidence against Dan is so strong, and the injuries suffered by Dan's DUI crash victim so serious, that Dan agrees to plead guilty to the original charge of DUI (instead of aggravated DUI), in exchange for a less severe sentence than he would likely receive if a jury found him guilty at trial.

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