Criminal Attorneys Aren't Just for Criminals

Why A Guilty DUI Plea Is Almost Always A Bad Idea

by Eva Holmes

When charged with driving under the influence (DUI), you may be tempted to plead guilty and "get done with the case." However, there are several dangers to making such a rush decision. Here are three examples of the dangers of entering a guilty plea for your DUI charges:

It Gives You a Criminal Record

Entering a guilty plea leaves no doubt in anybody's mind that you committed the offense you have been charged with. In fact, after entering your guilty plea, all that remains is for you to be sentenced and have your details entered into the court's records. This means you will have a criminal record, which carries with it several consequences including these two:

  • Difficulties in getting a job—for example, it may be difficult to land a job that involves driving if you have a DUI in your criminal history.
  • Stigmatization that comes with criminal convictions—it may not be fair, but many people will treat you differently if they learn you have a criminal history. 

It Usually Results In Harsher Penalties

There are different levels of DUI penalties; whatever the court decides to give you depends on existing laws and the strength of your defense. For example, if you can mount a serious defense, the judge may not give in to the prosecutor's request (if the prosecutor even requests it) for the harshest penalty. However, if you just enter a guilty plea, there is nothing to stop the judge from giving you the maximum penalty possible for your charges. For example, defending your DUI case may help you get a probation sentence or get sent to rehabilitation. However, the chances of getting those relatively lenient sentences diminish when you don't contest your charges.

It Denies You the Chance of Plea Bargaining

Although plea bargaining also involves entering a guilty plea, the plea is for a lesser charge than the one you were originally facing. For example, the prosecutor may give you the chance to plead to "simple" DUI so that they don't try you for aggravated DUI. However, the prosecution has nothing to gain by offering you a plea deal if you have opted to plead guilty to the original charge.

Therefore, whenever you are charged with DUI, consult a lawyer and follow their advice. Even if you are eventually convicted, you are likely to have a better outcome (in terms of penalties and sentences) if you defend your case than if you just plead guilty. For more information, contact local professionals like Pollack & Ball LLC.