Understanding the Plea Bargaining Process in DUI Prosecutions

Categories: DUI Defense

Understanding the Plea Bargaining Process in DUI ProsecutionsColorado imposes severe penalties for individuals convicted of drunk driving, which results in serious inconveniences. TV police dramas make it seem like a person charged with a crime proceeds to trial within days of their arrest, and the trial ends quickly with a guilty or innocent verdict. In reality, this rarely happens. First of all, many criminal cases end through DUI plea bargaining. Second, if a defendant does opt to proceed to trial, it typically takes a significant amount of time to prepare a trial. If the defendant does not reach a plea agreement with the state, the charges will hang over their head until the court proceedings end. 

A qualified DUI attorney can provide critical advice and insight on negotiating a favorable plea agreement for DUI charges. We know what legal defenses can influence a prosecutor to offer you a favorable plea. Contact the Law Offices of Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., so an experienced DUI attorney can start reviewing the circumstances of your case.

Plea Bargaining in DUI Cases

A plea bargain is an agreement between the defendant, or the person charged with the crime, and the district attorney that allows the defendant to enter a guilty plea to a criminal offense in exchange for sentencing or charge concessions offered by the state. On the defendant’s side, a plea bargain can offer the following benefits:

  • Alleviating the risk of receiving a maximum sentence at trial,
  • Expediting the criminal process so you can start serving your sentence,
  • Substituting a criminal charge that carries less penalties, or
  • Taking the uncertainty out of the process.

The prosecution benefits from plea bargains as well. The criminal justice system in the United States would break down if a large portion of defendants did not accept plea agreements. Additionally, district attorneys often try to preserve their “win loss record” in the courtroom and hesitate to take a weak case to trial. Instead of risking the loss, they may allow the defendant to plead guilty to lesser charges. In some cases, the prosecutor may offer the defendant a favorable plea agreement in exchange for their cooperation against their co-conspirators or in separate criminal proceedings.

The plea bargaining process begins once you get into custody and can continue until the jury reaches a verdict in a courtroom trial. The defendant can even accept a plea bargain while their trial is ongoing, so long as the state’s offer remains open. 

An attorney can prevent you from accepting an unfair plea bargain and negotiate with the prosecutor to secure the best result available. Do not fall for the predatory tactics implemented by the prosecutor’s office.

Penalties for DUI in Colorado

If you do not accept a plea bargain, you will likely face the penalties outlined by Colorado statutes for a drunk driving conviction.

The DUI penalties available often depend on your prior drunk driving convictions.

The maximum penalties for a first DUI conviction include:

  • Up to 1 year in jail,
  • A fine of up to $1,000,
  • Up to 96 hours of community service,
  • Mandatory substance abuse education classes, and
  • Loss of your driver’s license.

If you take your case to trial, you risk receiving every penalty listed above. Most people are primarily concerned with being incarcerated. The prosecutor may offer you the ability to either avoid or face a minimal number of days incarcerated in exchange for a probation sentence. Even though probation is inconvenient, you can avoid missing work due to your incarceration and losing your job. 

In some cases, the prosecutor may agree to reduce your DUI charge to the lesser offense of Driving While Abilities Impaired (DWAI) or reckless driving, also known as a “wet reckless” plea agreement, in exchange for your attendance at alcohol education courses. The reckless driving charge is not considered a drunk driving conviction and does not increase penalties if you later receive a DUI. A Colorado reckless driving charge is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300.

In Colorado, prosecutors cannot offer a wet reckless plea bargain unless they have good reason to believe they could prove the defendant’s guilt at trial. A qualified DUI lawyer can review the details of your DUI and talk to the prosecuting attorney about negotiating a plea bargain. 

What Kind of Defenses Can Help the DUI Plea Bargaining Process?

There are a number of legal claims that could apply to your case and help with negotiating DUI charges down to reckless driving. Examples of valid legal defenses include:

  • Law enforcement lacked reasonable suspicion to pull your over;
  • The testing equipment was not calibrated correctly;
  • Your chemical test was collected incorrectly;
  • Officers did not read you your implied consent advisement;  or
  • Another person was driving the vehicle.

If a legal defense puts an element of the charged offense in doubt, the prosecutor may agree to reduce your charges. A DUI attorney can review the facts of your case and determine whether a legal claim applies to your charges. Then, your attorney can use your legal defense to negotiate a favorable plea bargain. 

Contact a DUI Lawyer at the Law Offices of Mark S. Rubenstein, P.C.

As the sole practitioner of Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., I have more than two decades of experience representing clients facing drunk driving charges. I know how aggressive Colorado prosecutors are regarding DUI defendants, but I am prepared to create a defense strategy to protect your rights. Some DUI attorneys might pressure you to take an unfavorable plea agreement just because they do not want to prepare your case for a full-fledged trial. 

I am not afraid to fight your charges until the end if the district attorney refuses to offer a fair plea agreement. I will help walk you through every detail of the plea bargain and how it affects you if you do opt to plead guilty. Contact the Law Offices of Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., immediately so I can start reviewing the details of your case.

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.