Why a Plea Bargain is Sometimes the Only Option for a DUI

Though the media portrays a different picture, most criminal cases never see the inside of a courtroom. Instead, the defendant enters a plea agreement or a plea bargain that determines the penalty for the crime. In many cases, a plea bargain places limitations on conviction or promises a particular sentence. Sometimes, plea bargaining is the best outcome in a DUI case.

DUI Plea Bargains

A DUI plea bargain is the legal term for an agreement between the prosecution and defendant in which each party agrees to something in order to receive a benefit. Prosecutors tend to favor pleas because these reduce the effort, time, and money required to go to trial and achieve a conviction. Defendants typically choose pleas due to reduced jail time. Entering a plea usually results in a less severe sentence (featuring less jail time) than losing the case in court.

In a DUI case, the attorney for the defendant may be able to get the prosecution to reduce the severity of the charge if the defendant agrees to enter a guilty plea. This plea may involve the defendant pleading guilty to a reckless driving charge, which carries less severe penalties, than a DUI. At any time prior to the sentencing phase, a defendant can retract a plea and opt for a trial.

Reasons to Accept a Plea Bargain for a DUI Charge

It is reasonable to assume that the prosecution in a DUI case has done its homework before offering a plea bargain to the defendant. The prosecutors have already reviewed the case and studied the evidence. If there were any victims or witnesses to the event, prosecutors have spoken to these individuals. The components of the plea are what the prosecutors consider appropriate and fair.

Rejecting a DUI Plea Bargain

Defendants, particularly those who represent themselves, often reject plea bargains. They choose to go to trial, during which the prosecution may recommend a more severe sentence. If the prosecution suggests the same sentence at trial as during the plea, this recommendation may not be followed by the judge. In general, a judge is allowed to impose any sentence deemed just even if a plea was offered.

Finding New Evidence at Trial

A trial may reveal more about the DUI arrest and the individual charged with the crime. This can cause the prosecution to alter its recommended sentence. If the defendant rejects a plea and is subsequently convicted of DUI during a trial due to new evidence unearthed by the prosecution, the defendant may be sentenced to jail time.

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8 thoughts on “Why a Plea Bargain is Sometimes the Only Option for a DUI”

  1. I was charged with y 2nd DUI in November 2021. Mmy first DUI charge and conviction was in 2007, a 15 year difference with both in Indiana. Is the state able to bring the first case up in court as evidence. Also, in the current case, I was taken to the hospital for a blood draw but there is no mention of said blood draw in the police report. I feel as if this may be vital to my case but my current counsel doesn’t feel the same. Is there anything that I can do on my behalf?

    • The only thing that matters about the blood draw are the results. The officer not mentioning it really doesn’t do much for you UNLESS there are other multiple small errors in the report. In that case your attorney can argue the officer was careless with the arrest details. Yes the state can bring up the previous charge but it doesn’t mean you can’t fight your current charges. But getting a better plea bargain will be harder since you have a prior.

  2. I got a DUI < I blew 09, I had a perfect record until now. I'm 68 years old. what should I do…. can you get it thrown out ? or if I go for a lesser charge what charge ?? I was told reckless driving is a really bad charge. I need to work and almost all jobs won't have you with a DUI .. Help

    • Yes you can get this thrown out. With BAC that low you should be able to drop the DUI and maybe only get a traffic citation.

  3. My husband has been arrested for fourth DUI. We were pulled over because of a “blue can being thrown out the window” which was untrue. Neither myself or husband had thrown anything out the window. I am not sure how to prove that we didn’t…but I’m not sure how the police officer is going to prove that we did (especially with no evidence). Will this help dismiss the case?

    We live in Nebraska and the fourth DUI is considered a felony. I will take any advice help I can get to fight this. How will prison help anything? Is there a chance that treatment will be an option instead?

    Thank you,


    • Not for a fourth conviction. BUT you need to see if there was a dash cam to prove there was nothing thrown out of the car. Then there is no reason for the police to pull you over.

  4. I was stopped by THP who said I was weaving,I was looking for a radio station. I admitted to having one shot of liquor with ice and 1/2 can of coke. I refused the blood/alcohol test, because of past issues with punctures. I Never speed anywhere. I was appointed a Public Defendant. I told him that I wanted to take the Plea Bargain. Because the arresting THP and I exchanged words, he had the DA to change my plea causing my case to go to General Sessions. The only person allowed to talk was the THP who told nothing but lies, in retailiation to our exchanging words. During Circuit Court, again, I took the plea and was charged with the DUI, speeding (dismissed, plus court fees) and failure to maintain (dismissed and court fees dismissed). My fines are $1300, restricted license,probation (weekly) plus $46 month, 48 hrs. in jail. And, I might have to get the Interlock device.
    My question: Can anything be done to the DA for changing my plea?


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