DUI Plea Bargaining: Supply & Demand

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jul 02, 2009 | 0 Comments

As many court dockets get clogged with an ever-increasing number of DUI cases, more of them are getting plea bargained. Typically this means a reduction of the charge to a wet reckless, dry reckless, misdemeanor exhibition of speed or even traffic infractions.

Throughout the DUI court process, which may take months and involve several court hearings, prosecutors and California DUI defense lawyers negotiate the terms of a plea bargain. Prosecutors want the accused to plead guilty to a DUI and suffer consequences such as fines, DUI school and even jail time. The defense wants to avoid conviction and avoid these consequences.

By fighting a DUI charge and attacking the state's evidence, the defense increases the chances the D.A. or the judge will offer a “better deal.” Two primary factors give the accused leverage. The first is the extent to which he can establish DUI defenses that reduce the likelihood of a conviction if the case goes to trial.

The second factor that pressures judges and prosecutors to make concessions is the sheer congestion of the court's calendar. Sometimes not enough courtrooms and prosecutors exist to handle the volume of DUI cases headed to trial. This is when simple supply and demand kicks in. The state is forced to offer better deals in order to settle cases and relieve this congestion quickly. (Also refer to our article, "Can a DUI conviction be removed in California?")

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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