5 Legal Options You Have In A DUI Case
Getting arrested for a DUI case can be a serious offense with serious consequences in the offing. While a good defense attorney might be able to argue your case well, you need to be prepared for the worst outcome in the trial – a guilty verdict.
So, once it’s clear that the judge is going to land on this decision, you need to consider your options.
In this piece, we’ll look at five options you and your defense attorney can explore in a DUI case to avoid a hefty fine, jail time, and suspension of your license. This can save you future employment opportunities, housing options, and even insurance premiums. So, read on.
Attending A Legal DUI First-Time Offender Program
Many states have a DUI first-time offender program that gives first-time DUI offenders a second chance. Otherwise known as DUI courts or DUI diversion programs, depending on the state, DUI first-time offender programs help mitigate the consequences of a DUI conviction.
In most cases, DUI first offender programs offer DUI education programs such as drunk-driving education. On the flipside, eligible participants are usually subjected to drug and alcohol testing, drug or alcohol abuse assessments and treatments, plus being forced to use ignition interlock devices (IID).
Once you complete the program, you can often avoid a criminal conviction, jail time, and license suspension. However, in most cases, you have to be a first time offender with no high blood alcohol levels or caused serious injuries at the time of the arrest.
DUI offenses can lead to a civil suit in a case where serious bodily injuries and financial losses were incurred. And if the evidence sufficiently proves that you committed the offense and are thus liable for the damages and a conviction, a plea bargain should be your best bet.
A DUI conviction carries a spectrum of penalties. With a plea bargain, what you’re trying to do is reach an agreement with the prosecution at the lower end of the spectrum. This means that you’ll agree to plead guilty, with the prosecution suggesting leaner penalties for your plea.
For instance, you can have a DUI charge reduced to a reckless driving charge, otherwise known as “wet reckless”, with a plea bargain. Wet reckless charges have leaner penalties than a DUI charge.
Attend and Complete a Rehabilitation Program
Repeat offenders and first-time offenders (whose DUI resulted in injury or accident) have lesser options during the trial. In most cases, these DUI charges can lead to considerable jail time and very hefty fines.
However, in such situations, if the court sees it fit, you can take inpatient alcohol and drug rehabilitation program. This is given in place of a hefty prison sentence.
In most cases, the court will let you take the inpatient program for the same amount of time as the prison sentence. And since it is court-mandated, you’ll have to serve and complete the treatment, proving successful sobriety, before the court can clear you.
Probation is usually given to an offender with no prior criminal history. It’s also given in place of serving prison time, with the court strictly requiring that you have no other DUI charges, save for the current one.
Once you serve the probation fully, no conviction is made on your DUI charges. However, during the probation period, you will be required to abide by some rules and conditions such as:
- Getting a substance abuse evaluation
- Random drug tests
- Attending DUI education classes
- Meeting with a probation officer on set schedules
Despite serving probation and evading a conviction, you may still be required to pay court fines, have your driver’s license suspended, and pay probation fees during the time of serving.
Attempt an Expungement
This option is only viable if you evaded prison time but rather served probation. Plus, expungement is mostly available to first-time offenders, as opposed to repeat offenders.
For instance, some states can offer a deferred adjudication where, if the offender complies and fully serves his/her probation, the court can fully expunge the DUI charge. The records will, thus, only be visible to law enforcement. This can save your image and reduce the lifelong impacts of a DUI charge.
DUI cases should not always lead to a trial and hefty sentencing. You can use either of these options to get a more lenient sentence, and possibly have the charges expunged at the end of it all. Make sure you consult with your attorney on which of the availed options would be best for you, based on your case.