Plea Bargains in Los Angeles DUI Cases
This is an interesting subject matter because a lot of people have the perception that it's the same plea bargain in every case. In other words, it's the same punishment that is given by the prosecutors in every single DUI case, which of course, could not be further from the truth. There's so many different factors that go into what the prosecutors are going to offer to settle a particular case.
One huge factor is how high your blood alcohol level was at the time of driving because that really gets to the crux of the issue that they're looking to guard against, which is the public getting hurt.
People with high blood alcohol levels are in a position where they really can't safely a motor vehicle and this is where people die and get hurt on the road when individuals get to such a high blood alcohol level that they really don't know what they're doing.
When the courts evaluate somebody for purposes of determining whether they're guilty or not and for discovering whether or not they in fact are dangerous, they're evaluating them from a perspective of, everybody in society knows how dangerous drinking and driving is.
They're going to look at not only your actions of what you do on the case, but before you decide to start drinking. In other words, unless somebody slips something in your drink, you knew that you were going to have to drive home before you started drinking and you chose to do that. You made a conscience decision to do that.
Totality of Circumstances in Plea Bargaining DUI Cases
So, that's what they do. They look at the totality of the circumstances when they're deciding these plea bargain cases. They're also looking at the impact and the damage that a particular person caused in the case.
So, there's a whole gamut of DUI's. There's cases where somebody just forgets to turn their lights on so the police were able to pull them over because of that and then they're blood alcohol level is pretty close to the legal limit. They weren't driving recklessly. Nobody got hurt and they even passed some of the field sobriety tests.
That's the low-end of the spectrum and those people will be in a good position to argue for something less than a DUI. But, even that scenario is not just a standard same thing every time. It depends on which courthouse you're in. It depends on who the prosecutor is. It depends on what county you're in.
Some of the counties, like Ventura County and Orange County, are just very, very difficult to deal with versus Los Angeles County which there is some more flexibility. I don't know the answer for that. Ventura County and Orange County are just very conservative.
Prior Criminal Record, Injuries, Level of Danger on the Road
When you're looking at these plea bargains, you're looking also at the person. Do they have a criminal record? Do they have any tickets on their record? They look at what you did. Were there any injuries? How fast were they going? Did somebody get seriously hurt or is it just a soft tissue injury.
So, there's so many different factors and ingredients that go into a DUI case that it's crucial you get an attorney that has a lot of experience because they will have seen the different scenarios and the different outcomes.
A lot of the courts that I go to I've been there a thousand times, and if I have a case where somebody blew a .08 for example and they're only offering me a first-time DUI, I'm going to be looking at the prosecutor and saying, wait a minute. I was just in here last week on a .08 and you gave me a speed contest. Why is this client different?
What is more egregious about this client that you're now only offering the standard first-time DUI? What's the difference between a .08 and say, a .13, as far as an offer goes, you would offer a first-time DUI to a .13?
If somebody's close to the legal limit, can take the government to task and beat you in a jury trial because there's an error rate on the breath machine of .02, so this person could have been a .06. How are you offering the person who has the .08 the same as the person who has a .13?
So, there's definitely techniques and strategies to plea bargaining cases. You have to know who you're dealing with. You have to know the jurisdiction and you have to look at your client — what they did; how dangerous they are, and you also have to know the prosecutor you're dealing with.
Plea Bargain Options in DUI Cases in Los Angeles
Unfortunately, some of these prosecutors are more tough than others. Sometimes you have to go to the judge and get the offer if the prosecutor is not being reasonable. Let's review potential plea bargain options below.
- Wet Reckless
- Dry Reckless
- Exhibition of Speed
- Open Container
- Traffic Violations
- Drinking Alcohol in Vehicle
- Drunk in Public
So, with all of these factors at play, I would definitely advise that you want to get a a DUI attorney who is local to the court where your case is pending, had cases there, been successful there, and who you can really have a conversation about your case with to try to get a good feel for how they can help you.