A skilled California DUI attorney knows how to evaluate any drunk driving case. Part of that evaluation involves advising you whether to take your case to jury trial or whether to accept a plea bargain.
If you go to trial and win, the case is dismissed. But if you lose, the judge has wide discretion as to how to sentence you. The judge sentences you based on your convicted charge--which, in a DUI case, is generally Vehicle Code 23152(a) driving under the influence and Vehicle Code 23152(b) driving with excessive BAC. Your California DUI sentencing may be better or worse than what you expected, depending on what evidence was revealed during trial.
A plea bargain is a negotiated settlement of your case that takes place between your California DUI attorney and the prosecutor. The benefit here is that you know what your sentence will be before you plead guilty. Depending on the facts of your DUI case, your attorney's goal might be to negotiate (1) a reduced sentence, (2) a reduced charge, or (3) both.
The most frequently reduced DUI charges are a "wet" reckless and a "dry" reckless under Vehicle Code 23103 VC. "Exhibition of Speed", "drunk in public", and traffic infractions are also sometimes negotiated. The more effective your California DUI lawyer is at identifying and developing defenses to your DUI case, the more leverage he/she has to plea bargain for lesser charges and lesser sentencing.
Below is a brief overview of the typical DUI plea bargains. More detailed information about the "pros and cons" of wet and dry reckless driving convictions and an exhibition of speed charge may be found by visiting our pages on those specific subjects. Also visit out page on the California DUI court process.
A wet reckless is typically the first level of DUI reduction that the prosecution will consider. The "wet" in wet reckless means that alcohol (or for that matter, drugs) were involved in the arrest.
The main advantages of a "wet reckless" over a California DUI are that a wet reckless subjects you to
The significant downside is that, like a California DUI, a wet reckless charge is still priorable. This means that if you are convicted of a DUI within 10 years of your wet reckless conviction, you will be sentenced as a repeat offender.
The major advantages that a dry reckless conviction has over a wet reckless conviction are that a dry reckless (1) doesn't count as a DUI on your criminal and driving record, and (2) probably won't cause your insurance premium to go through the roof.
There is really only one drawback to a dry reckless conviction.it, like a "wet reckless" and a DUI, will give you 2 points on your DMV record. Acquiring too many points in a given time period triggers a negligent operator license suspension. That notwithstanding, most California DUI attorneys regard plea bargaining a DUI down to a dry reckless as a very good result.
Since "wet" refers to an alcohol-related offense, "dry" is just a means of distinguishing the offenses. A "dry" reckless is simply misdemeanor reckless driving.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are a few other California DUI reductions that are sometimes, though more rarely, negotiated. These include:
These reductions aren't necessarily related to California DUI. They are simply used as uniform reductions to communicate to other law enforcement agencies that you had a DUI arrest that "didn't stick".
Exhibition of speed is still a misdemeanor offense, subjecting you to probation, fines, and possibly jail time. In reality, you would likely pay a reduced fine, be on a short probation, and serve no jail time.
This would be offered as a reduction in a case where the prosecutor suspected that he/she wouldn't be able to convince a jury that you were DUI. Like the above reductions, a speed "ex" also adds two points to your DMV record.
A drunk in public (DIP) charge may be offered or requested if it was obvious that you were drunk but not so obvious that you were driving. An example would be if you were passed out in a parked car.
Although this offense would typically be charged if you were in a public place.and allegedly intoxicated to the point where you posed a safety threat to yourself and/or others.it is also recognized as a reduced DUI charge agreed upon sometimes through plea bargains.
A drunk in public conviction is also a misdemeanor, subjecting you to possible jail time and fines.
Traffic infractions or moving violations would only be offered as a last resort. Unlike the above reductions, you can only be penalized by a fine when you are convicted of an infraction. They are not criminal convictions. Prosecutors sometimes will offer two traffic infractions--called a "pair of movers"--in lieu of a DUI. The idea is that you could do traffic school on one of them, and sustain the DMV points on the other.
Examples where traffic infractions or "movers" might be offered include situations where:
How many points you receive on your DMV record will depend on what violation(s) you are convicted of. As a bargaining tool, the prosecutor will usually insist on a combination totaling at least two points.
California DUI charge reductions aren't automatically offered in every DUI case. Good DUI defense lawyers know how to convince prosecutors that their DUI cases are weak.and therefore to offer a reduced charge. For more information on these California DUI reductions, we invite you to contact us at one of our Southern California local DUI law offices.
1Even if your DUI charge is plea bargained down to a wet or dry reckless, you may still suffer a drivers license suspension if you lose your DUI DMV hearing. To avoid a license suspension altogether, you must both get your DUI charge reduced in court to a lesser offense and win your DMV hearing.
If you or a loved one faces misdemeanor or felony charges, contact our California criminal defense attorneys for help. We'd be glad to meet with you for a free consultation at one of our local criminal law offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Van Nuys, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino or Riverside.
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