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pleading guilty to DUI charge

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious charge that comes with severe consequences if convicted. A DUI can change your life and the lives of people around you. If you have a DUI conviction on your record, you could be unable to drive for a period of time, making it difficult to work and handle everyday activities. Subsequent DUI convictions will make things even more difficult. The best way to avoid the problems of a DUI conviction is to fight DUI charges. When the police arrest you for DUI, you will participate in an initial hearing. During the hearing, the judge will provide you with the exact charges against you and you will have to make a plea. Here’s what happens if you plead guilty to a DUI charge in Ventura. 

What are the Pleas Available in a DUI Case?

As with any criminal case, the defendant has to choose a plea as part of the initial hearing or arraignment. The plea choices are:

  • Guilty
  • Not Guilty
  • No Contest

If you plead not guilty the case will proceed to trial. A trial allows you the opportunity to present your case and the prosecutor will present evidence. The judge or jury will determine the outcome of the matter based on the facts that they hear in the case. If you plead guilty or no contest, the judge will determine your sentence without a trial. In some instances, the prosecutor may ask you to take a plea deal. Plea deals are very common because they allow the case to conclude quickly, without the benefit of a trial. 

What is a Plea Deal?

A plea deal or plea bargain is an agreement between a prosecutor and defendant to plead guilty to lesser charges to receive a reduced sentence. For example, rather than DUI, you may be allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge such as reckless driving, public drunkenness, or traffic violations. The benefit of pleading guilty to lesser charges is that they typically come with lower penalties than DUI. However, it is important to understand the benefits and pitfalls of accepting a plea deal in your specific case. 

A prosecutor may offer a plea deal when the evidence against you is weak. In this instance, it may be better to go to trial where you can defend the charges and potentially get acquitted. An acquittal clears you of all charges and will not result in any type of sentence. An experienced attorney will be able to negotiate a plea deal that is beneficial in your case. Your attorney will evaluate the details of your case including the evidence to determine the best way to proceed. Every case is different, and the evidence and other factors of the case will help you and your attorney assess your options. 

Should I Plead Guilty to a DUI Charge in California?

Generally, the best option in a DUI arrest is to discuss the case with an experienced DUI defense attorney before you decide on your plea. If you plead guilty, the judge will immediately determine your sentence. You will not have a chance to provide any type of defense and you will have to live with the sentence the judge hands down. The penalties for a DUI conviction may include suspension of your driver’s license, driving restrictions, fines, probation, DUI education, and jail time. These penalties will be imposed and you cannot contest them. Therefore, it is usually best to work with an attorney to assist you in defending DUI charges to obtain the best possible outcome. 

At David Lehr Law, we handle DUI defense on a regular basis. We will help you achieve more favorable results. Contact David Lehr Law at (805) 477-0070 for a consultation to assist you with your case.