What is a plea bargain? Depending on the circumstances of a case, one way that the courts sometimes try to resolve criminal charges is through a plea bargain. In a plea bargain, the accused agrees to plead guilty, often receiving lesser charges and penalties in the process. Why would the courts be interested in offering plea bargains to people they think are guilty? Plea bargains keep the process running smoothly and help alleviate the burdens of the court system.
So, let’s say you are arrested for drunk driving (DUI) in Colorado. Is it in your interest to accept a plea bargain, if offered?
In Colorado, we have a lesser charge for driving while ability impaired (DWAI). DWAI charges are essentially diet DUIs, and there are several reasons why DWAI charges can be attractive. First things first, DWAIs carry no administrative penalty on your driver’s license (assuming it is your first impaired driving charge – repeat offenses do lead to license suspension). This may be attractive if you rely on a personal vehicle for your day to day life.
Additionally, DWAI carries less penalties as far as fines and jail time go. Think about the following, though, before you commit, and always discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney before signing the deal.
- If you do plead guilty, even to a lesser charge, you will still have the charges on your record. Depending on the facts of your case, you might choose instead to fight and have the charges dropped completely.
- There has to be give and take. Generally speaking, the worse your case looks, the more you would have to give up to be eligible for a plea bargain.
- When the time comes and you are about to go to trial, the prosecution may approach you with an attractive plea bargain. Resist the urge to accept until the arresting officer arrives, because without the officer, you may end up having charges dropped completely.
In the end, the decision to accept a plea deal is yours and yours alone, but we urge you to first discuss the facts of your case with a DUI defense lawyer.
Our Denver DUI lawyers are prepared to advise you in your drunk driving case to determine your best course moving forward.