If you've been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), some important decisions are in your future. Once you've been released from jail, speak with a criminal law attorney and evaluate their advice carefully. In the meantime, consider these three options for dealing with the DUI charges below.
1. Fighting the Charge
When it comes to fighting the DUI charges, a lot rides on the evidence. You will likely be going up against the state's prime piece of evidence, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) results, if you take your case to trial. In all states, the legal BAC stands at .08% or above. If your BAC results are above that limit and the integrity of the test results is unassailable, you might not have much of a chance at a trial. It should be noted that you do not have to show any signs of being drunk to be convicted—a BAC result alone is enough evidence.
If the results of the BAC are right at the .08% or slightly higher, your chances of success at trial improve a little. Each BAC form of testing provides the potential for a margin of error. One commonly-used margin of error defense involves what is known as the rising blood alcohol issue. This defense contends that the results of the BAC did not accurately show your level of intoxication while you were driving but instead shows a BAC that rose between the time of the stop and the time of the test. Unfortunately, the BAC is not the only form of evidence the prosecution has at their disposal. They may have video footage of the stop, the results of field sobriety tests, and footage of your driving before the stop. While any one of those may not be enough to convict, taken collectively it might convince a jury that you were intoxicated while driving.
When presented with a choice, some defendants opt to plead guilty. Doing so avoids an expensive and public trial and allows you to find out your punishment and get on with your life. If the evidence of your DUI is overwhelming, speak to your attorney about this option.
Accepting a Plea Bargain
You will undoubtedly be offered a plea deal. Unless the DUI had enhanced charges, such as an injury or the death of someone, plea deals can make things easier for both parties. A plea means giving up the opportunity for a trial, pleading to a lesser charge, and being immediately sentenced. There are no set guidelines for the lesser charge or the punishments and a great deal depends on the skills of your DUI defense attorney. In most cases, plea deals are offered to first-time offenders and in cases where the evidence is weak.
Speak to a DUI attorney to learn more.