Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense, and prosecutors and courts in Florida treat it accordingly. Punishments upon conviction can include fines, driver’s license suspension, and even time in jail. If you find yourself facing a DUC charge, you might be wondering if you could benefit from a “plea agreement” to reduce the charge to something less than a DUI.
In Florida plea deals are certainly possible to negotiate in a variety of contexts. The most important consideration when it comes to a DUI plea negotiation is that whether to engage in it is entirely at the discretion of the prosecuting attorney; there is no way that you can compel negotiations. If your current charge is your first DUI, though, your chances of negotiating a deal for a lesser charge will be better than for a repeat offender.
The main objective of plea negotiation is to avoid having a DUI conviction placed on your record. You and your attorney may offer an exchange involving an agreement to plead guilty to a charge such as reckless driving instead. In Florida this is sometimes referred to as a “wet reckless” plea negotiation. As long as you do not get into the situation of facing a second, later DUI charge, this outcome can benefit you directly as well as reduce the prosecutor’s workload.You should be aware, though, that if you are facing a subsequent DUI conviction then the reduced plea can effectively be treated as a prior DUI for purposes of assessing the legal penalties against you.
The best defense against a DUI charge is, of course, not to drink and drive. The second-best option can be to seek a plea bargain if you are so accused and the evidence against you is too strong to seek an acquittal, provided that this is your first time. In this situation, having a criminal defense attorney experienced with representing clients in drunk driving cases can improve your chances of keeping that first DUI conviction off of your driving record.