Many people believe that the criminal process inevitably ends up with a jury trial, but this is actually not true in the majority of cases. Plea bargains are very common in the criminal justice system for all kinds of charges, including DUI.
Whether or not it is smart for you to accept or reject a plea bargain depends on the specifics of your case. According to FindLaw, a plea bargain is when a defendant agrees to plead guilty to a set of charges in return for a form of incentive.
Why would I agree to plead guilty?
A common tactic is for prosecutors to offer defendants the ability to plead guilty to a charge with less seriousness in order to avoid higher penalties. For instance, if you agree to plead guilty to a DUI charge you may be able to enter an alcohol diversion program or do a variety of community service projects as compared to serving jail time.
Additionally, agreeing to plead guilty to charges and skip the jury trial can also save the defendant a lot of money on defense costs. Pleading guilty may also lower fines.
What kinds of plea bargains might I make?
In a less-serious DUI case, it is possible that the prosecutors will offer the chance for the defendant to plead guilty to something like an open container violation or reckless driving, both of which are much less severe than DUI charges.
In a more serious DUI case where there may be injuries involved and it is highly likely a jury would convict the defendant due to overwhelming evidence, the defendant might agree to plead guilty to DUI in order to avoid a charge of aggravated DUI.