Traffic Violations Plea Bargain in a California DUI Case
When it comes to DUI's and traffic violations this is kind of the bread and butter that the police use to pull people over. They need to allege some sort of a traffic violation in order to just pull somebody over and you see the police out late at night, especially on the weekends and even weeknights.
They are even out in the wee-hours of the morning believe it or not — people are going to work after they drank the night before, a lot of times they still have alcohol in their system and the police are on the look-out for that.
Police Use a Traffic Violation For DUI Investigation
So, they're looking for some sort of a traffic violation to use that as an angle to pull you over and do their DUI investigation. When they come up on your car and you roll down your window and you've had drinks either recently or the night before, believe it or not, they're stone-cold sober and a lot of time as that window opens up, they get a blast smell of alcohol and then their investigation is on.
Especially the California Highway Patrol. That's all these guys do is investigate DUI cases. They get medals and awards from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and their own department for how many arrests they can get for DUI's.
So, when they're out on the road, they're looking to pull people over and they will pull them over for any reason. Probably the easiest reason that they use is that the person was weaving or swerving and then they'll use that as a justification to pull the person over to smell their breath, to ask them if they've been drinking.
That's their second move in addition to trying to smell alcohol, they just point-blank ask the person whether or not they've been drinking and a lot of people are honest and say yeah, I had a couple, and the next thing you know they're getting him out of the car and having him perform the field sobriety tests.
Some Traffic Violations Can Enhance a Sentence
Another interesting thing about traffic violations as they relate to DUI's or driving under the influence cases is they can exacerbate a DUI. In other words, they can make it worse if, for example, you were going way over the speed limit and the police put that in the police report — 80mph, 90mph, 100mph — once the prosecutors see that combined with the fact that you're driving under the influence, they consider you a much more dangerous individual and a candidate for jail tie.
So, these traffic violations can be used to enhance a sentence. If someone's driving recklessly and they're also DUI, that's another big factor that the prosecutors will look at in deciding to try to file additional charges.
So, if you have traffic violations and you have them combined with a DUI, you can expect that they're going to treat you much more harshly than they would of somebody who simply just has a DUI.
Maybe they were driving without their lights on for example. The more traffic violations that the police observe and put in the police report, the more serious the prosecutors are going to consider the case. If charged with DUI, it might be possible to reduce the charge to a traffic violation.
Lawyer To Reduce a DUI to a Traffic Violation
It should be noted that prosecutors want to get a conviction in every DUI case, but it's not always realistic. In some cases, they have problems wit the evidence, arrest process, which can raise questions about the ability to convict. In this type of situation, the prosecutor could offer a plea bargain. This means they are willing to drop the DUI charge if you will agree to plead guilty to a less serious charge.
Most plea bargains don't involve traffic violations, but rather a wet reckless deal. However, in a DUI case where a conviction is not likely, the prosecutor might offer traffic infractions instead, which is essentially a ticket. This is most likely the best type of DUI deal you could ever expect.
Another thing that's interesting is, a lot of times the police will claim they see multiple traffic violations, arrest the person, book them for a DUI and then the prosecutors only file the DUI charge, and I have clients asking me, why didn't they file the other charges?
That's just the way they do it in Los Angeles county. They're not going to file a speeding charge. They're not going to file some moving violation in addition to the DUI. I think they figure the DUI is bad enough, why are we now going to file a bunch of moving violations? So, that you are very unlikely to see.
The only time I see them break that rule of thumb is if the person has a suspended license A lot of times they'll file that case because they are very serious about people driving with valid driver's licenses and they want to make sure the DMV knows that they're driving around without a valid driver's license.
So, traffic violations are definitely something you don't want to see attached to a DUI charge, because they mean to the prosecutors that you're more dangerous than the average DUI offender who is arrested and prosecuted.