The Benefits of a Plea Bargain to Impaired Driving in Colorado

Categories: DUI Defense

The Benefits of a Plea Bargain to Impaired Driving in Colorado

If you were pulled over for drunk driving, you are facing some serious consequences. As in any other criminal or traffic offense, you typically have two options: plea bargain or proceed to trial. 

There are pros and cons to each. If you are charged with a DUI, you face a license suspension, fines, and potential jail time. These steep consequences often encourage individuals charged with impaired driving to consider a plea bargain. An experienced DUI lawyer can discuss the advantages and disadvantages to a plea bargain. In certain instances, a plea bargain may not be available or it may be best to proceed to a DUI trial. What’s best for you depends on your individual circumstances. 

At Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., we have decades of experience defending individuals charged with impaired driving. We have had great success in negotiating favorable plea bargains on behalf of our clients. Call us to schedule a confidential consultation. 

What Are the Benefits of a Plea Bargain to Impaired Driving?

A plea bargain typically involves a reduction in the charges or a reduction in the sentence. Both can be beneficial. There are clear advantages to either scenario including:

  • No mandatory license suspension,
  • A more lenient sentence,
  • Knowing your sentence upfront, 
  • Possibly avoiding the stigma of a DUI conviction, and 
  • No mandatory DUI educational instruction.

Negotiating a plea deal allows you to be in control of your own destiny.  However, a plea bargain has to be agreed upon by both parties. It is imperative to have an experienced lawyer negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf. Often it is the skilled negotiation of your attorney that convinces the prosecutor to offer a plea deal. Mark S. Rubinstein, our DUI defense attorney has successfully plea-bargained for lesser charges on behalf of many clients. 

Reduced Charges

In Colorado, there are several charge reduction options in DUI cases: 

  • Wet reckless,
  • Dry reckless,
  • Exhibition of speed, and
  • Drinking or having an open container in a motor vehicle.

Two of the most common charge reductions are wet reckless and dry reckless driving. Both involve different variations of a reckless driving plea agreement. 

Wet Reckless v. Dry Reckless

Wet reckless is a loose term used to describe reducing a charge from DUI to reckless driving involving the use of alcohol. There is no actual statutory offense of “wet reckless”; rather it is the nickname given to this type of charge reduction. A wet reckless plea usually results in less or no jail time, lower fines, and the possibility of avoiding a license suspension.

Dry reckless driving is a plea to a simple reckless driving charge. Unlike, “wet reckless” there will be no mention of “involving the use of alcohol” on your driving record.

The main advantage to a dry reckless plea is it will not count as a DUI conviction. 

Are You Eligible for a Wet or Dry Reckless Plea?

In Colorado, a person who drives a motor vehicle in such a manner as to indicate either a wanton or a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

Although common, obtaining a wet or dry reckless plea is not easy. An experienced DUI defense attorney will be able to assess the circumstances and determine if you may be eligible for either.  Even if your lawyer believes you are a good candidate for a reckless driving plea, that does not automatically guarantee it. Your lawyer will need to convince the prosecutor that you should be afforded one of these plea options. 

Factors considered when determining eligibility for a plea bargain include:

  • Whether it is your first DUI offense; 
  • If you have a criminal record;
  • There was no accident, injury, or other aggravating factors;
  • Your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the stop;
  • Whether you cooperated with the police; and
  • Whether other charges were brought (e.g. possession of a controlled substance).

The more positive factors you have on your side, the better the case for a plea bargain. Choosing the right lawyer to represent you is key. An experienced DUI defense attorney will immediately identify the factors pertaining to you to devise a thorough defense. 

Exhibition of Speed

In rare circumstances, upon review of their case, a prosecutor may decide there is not sufficient evidence to risk proceeding to trial. This can be due to incomplete records or reports, faulty equipment, misplaced evidence, etc. In situations where the prosecutor’s case is particularly weak, you may be able to plead to a charge of “exhibition of speed” or speed ex for short. 

Colorado law prohibits the exhibition of speed or knowingly racing a motor vehicle on a public roadway. Although a lesser offense than a DUI, it is still classified as a traffic misdemeanor. Although the statute provides for potential jail time, there usually isn’t any associated with a plea agreement. 

Open Container

Under Colorado law, it is illegal for the driver and any passenger to drink alcohol or have an open container in a motor vehicle that is in motion. If a prosecutor has a particularly weak case, they may reduce impaired driving charges to an open container violation. The penalties for an open container conviction usually involve only fines and fees. 

Dismissal of Multiple Charges

If at the time of the stop, you were charged with additional offenses it is possible to negotiate a deal in which one or more of them are dismissed. For example, if you are charged with DUI and possession of a controlled substance your lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea deal in which you plead to the DUI charge but the possession charge is dropped. This will almost certainly result in a lesser sentence and a cleaner criminal and driving record.

Considering a Plea Bargain to Impaired Driving? Call Us Today!

If you were charged with DUI in Colorado, you need an aggressive defense. A knowledgeable DUI defense attorney will recognize if and when a favorable plea bargain should be considered. Do not wait to contact an attorney. DUI cases often move swiftly, and a thoroughly prepared defense could mean a better outcome in your case. Contact Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C. today to get started. With over two decades of experience dedicated to criminal defense, we are ready to fight for you. 


Mark Rubinstein

Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Colorado. He founded Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., in Carbondale after working for law firms in Denver and earlier in his career in San Diego. He focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury representation, and he is well known throughout western Colorado as an effective and unwavering advocate for his clients.