Contact an experienced Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer immediately for the legal advice that you will very much need if you are charged with DUI (driving under the influence) in Los Angeles County or anywhere else in southern California. Make the call at once.
If you’re accused of DUI, should you insist on your right to a trial and enter a not guilty plea? Or is it better to accept a plea deal? If you’ll keep reading, you’ll learn when to plead guilty to DUI, when to plead not guilty, and where to turn for the legal help that you are certainly going to need.
If you genuinely believe that you are not guilty of driving under the influence, and if your DUI attorney is unable to have the charge dropped or dismissed, you should plead not guilty and insist on your right to a trial. If you are not guilty, your attorney will fight aggressively for an acquittal.
WHEN IS TAKING A PLEA DEAL THE BEST OPTION IN A DUI CASE?
However, if the state’s case is convincing, and a guilty verdict is likely, your lawyer may recommend taking a plea deal for a lesser charge. Especially if the charge against you is a first-offense misdemeanor with no aggravating circumstances, a plea deal may be your best option.
Always discuss with your own lawyer the pros and cons of any plea agreement offered by a California prosecutor. Your attorney will recommend accepting or rejecting the offer. While you should take your lawyer’s advice seriously, the final choice to take or reject a plea deal is yours.
If you face a criminal charge in California, do not accept a plea deal, sign a legal document, or answer any questions unless your lawyer is present. As you already know, if you’re charged with DUI, you have the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present for questioning.
WHAT IS “WET RECKLESS” IN CALIFORNIA?
Often in this state, if a defendant faces a misdemeanor, first driving under the influence charge with no aggravating circumstances, a prosecutor will offer to drop the charge if a defendant agrees in return to enter a guilty plea to the lower “wet reckless” charge.
The police do not charge anyone with wet reckless. That is exclusively a prosecutor’s prerogative. Wet reckless is charged only when a prosecutor offers a plea agreement and a defendant accepts that plea agreement.
The wet reckless charge is used by the state primarily to move driving under the influence cases more rapidly through the overcrowded courts. If you accept a plea offer in a driving under the influence case, you’ll know exactly what sentence to expect before you formally enter the plea.
WHEN CAN A PROSECUTOR OFFER A PLEA DEAL IN A DUI CASE?
Even for a misdemeanor, first-offense driving under the influence charge, being offered a plea bargain is not automatic. California’s legal guidelines permit the prosecutor in a DUI case to offer a plea deal only if:
- The evidence is not sufficient to prove driving under the influence.
- A key witness is unavailable.
- The plea deal makes no “substantial change” in the offender’s sentence.
If the state’s DUI case is particularly weak, an experienced DUI lawyer may be able to negotiate an even better plea deal and have the charge reduced to a traffic infraction or a “drunk and disorderly” charge. In rare cases, your lawyer may be able to have the charge entirely dismissed.
WHAT ARE THE “ADVANTAGES” OF PLEADING GUILTY TO WET RECKLESS?
Still, a conviction for wet reckless will result in substantially lesser penalties than a conviction for driving under the influence. Typically, no time in jail will be ordered, and no DUI conviction will appear on your record or in a background check for employment.
However, if driving is a requirement of your job – and especially if driving is, in fact, your primary job duty – you should know that California employers who hire drivers know that a wet reckless conviction means that you took a deal to avoid a driving under the influence conviction.
You will almost certainly spend no time behind bars for a wet reckless conviction, and your driver’s license will not be suspended.
WHAT PENALTIES ARE IMPOSED FOR A WET RECKLESS CONVICTION?
However, for a wet reckless conviction, you will probably be sentenced to pay a fine, required to attend alcohol or drug education classes, and possibly ordered to perform community service. You may also be ordered to install an IID (ignition interlock device) in your personal vehicle.
Additionally, here is what a conviction for wet reckless will do:
- add two points to your California driver’s license
- increase your automobile insurance rates
- make you ineligible for ten years for a California safe driver insurance discount
A wet reckless conviction can have long-term consequences. If you’re charged with DUI within ten years of a wet reckless conviction, that DUI charge will be treated as a second DUI offense, which entails harsher penalties for a conviction than a first driving under the influence offense.
WHAT PLEA SHOULD YOU ENTER FOR A DUI CHARGE?
So, if you are charged with DUI, should you plead guilty to wet reckless? In many instances, that may be the best choice – but not always. If your DUI defense attorney is convinced that you will be acquitted by a jury, your attorney will recommend entering a plea of not guilty.
Any choice to accept or reject a plea deal – for driving under the influence or any other charge – requires sound, experienced legal advice, and thoughtful, deliberate consideration.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR A FIRST DUI CONVICTION?
If you reject a plea agreement – or if you are not offered one – a non-commercial driver age 21 or older who is convicted of a first, misdemeanor DUI charge can be penalized with:
- jail for six months
- probation for five years
- a $1000 fine
- court-ordered treatment or alcohol education
- a driver’s license suspension (usually for four months)
- installation of an IID in your personal vehicle (at the end of the license suspension)
WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO A DUI ATTORNEY?
Driving under the influence conviction can take your freedom, eat up your resources, and seriously damage your future. An experienced Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer can provide the legal advice and guidance that you’ll need if you’re charged with DUI in the Los Angeles area.
If you are arrested for DUI, make the call to a good DUI lawyer immediately. That is your right.