DiCindio Law LLC | March 20, 2022 | DUI
How Often Do DUI Cases Go to Trial?
Driving under the influence is a crime under Pennsylvania law. Therefore, all DUI cases have the potential to go to trial. In reality, only a small percentage of DUI cases go to trial. Most individuals settle drunk driving charges without a trial.
Plea bargains are the most common way for DUI cases to be resolved in West Chester, PA. However, negotiating a plea deal without a West Chester DUI defense lawyer may not be in your best interest. Let’s look at DUI plea bargains versus DUI trials in more detail.
What is a DUI Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain is an agreement between you and the prosecutor. You agree to plead guilty to one or more criminal charges. In exchange, the prosecutor agrees to drop other charges, reduce charges, and/or recommend a reduced sentence.
According to Pennsylvania law for plea agreements, the parties state the agreement in court for the record. However, a judge may allow some conditions to be placed on the record outside of the courtroom. The judge questions the defendant to ensure that the defendant understands and voluntarily accepts the plea agreement’s terms.
Most DUI plea bargains require the defendant to plead guilty. Pleading guilty means that you state that you are guilty of the charges against you. However, your attorney may negotiate a plea deal for you to plead no contest.
A no-contest plea means that you neither admit nor deny that you were driving under the influence. Instead, you agree that you will not defend yourself against the DUI charges and accept the punishment without admitting guilt.
A reason to plead no contest to DUI charges is that it may help you in a DUI personal injury lawsuit. Admitting you were drunk when you caused a car accident could result in substantial personal liability. Your DUI defense lawyer may try to help you avoid a negligence per se claim by negotiating a no-contest plea agreement when possible.
Going to Trial for DUI Charges in West Chester, PA
Jurors decide whether you are guilty or innocent of the drunk driving charges against you when you go through a DUI trial. You have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses in your defense.
If you are found innocent, the DUI charges are not added to your criminal record. However, if the jury finds you guilty, the judge sentences you based upon the charges and any aggravating circumstances.
DUI penalties in Pennsylvania include, but are not limited to:
- Fines and assessments
- Jail or prison sentences
- Alcohol highway safety school
- Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
- Alcohol/drug treatment program
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
You do not have a guarantee of the outcome of a trial. Even if the evidence appears to be in your favor, the jury could find you guilty. Before choosing a DUI trial, talk to a criminal defense lawyer about DUI plea agreements versus potential DUI defenses.
What DUI Defenses Can I Use at Trial?
The defenses to drunk driving charges depend on the facts of your case. There are many ways to attack DUI charges. Your attorney bases the DUI defense strategy on the circumstances of your DUI arrest.
Potential DUI defenses that your attorney may use include, but are not limited to:
- Attacking the officer’s reasonable suspicion or probable cause for a DUI stop and/or drunk driving arrest
- Challenging the validity of field sobriety tests
- Alleging you have a medical condition that made you appear to be intoxicated, such as a brain injury, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.
- Challenging the accuracy of chemical tests for blood alcohol content (BAC) based on health conditions, rising BAC levels, mouth alcohol, device malfunction, contaminated samples, procedural errors, police misconduct, etc.
- Alleging that the police used an illegal DUI checkpoint to stop you
- Proving that your ability to operate the vehicle was not impaired at the time of the DUI stop
When you meet with your DUI defense attorney, be honest and forthcoming. Your lawyer needs to know every detail to develop the best defense strategy for drunk driving charges.
Should I Go to Trial or Accept a Plea Deal for DUI Charges?
The terms of a DUI plea agreement depend on the facts of your case. A prosecutor may not be willing to negotiate a favorable plea deal if the state has compelling and overwhelming evidence against you. Therefore, having experienced legal counsel is crucial at this stage in the judicial process.
A criminal defense lawyer analyzes the evidence against you and the potential DUI defenses to the charges. Then, based on the evidence, facts, and possible defenses, your attorney advises you of your chances of winning if you go to trial.
You should discuss the pros and cons of a plea versus trial with your criminal defense lawyer to decide which option is in your best interest. The prosecutor will not tell you whether the case against you is weak or if you have defenses that could result in winning at trial. You need to seek that advice from an experienced DUI lawyer.
Contact Our DUI Law Firm in West Chester, PA
If you are facing criminal charges and need legal help, contact the West Chester, PA DUI lawyers at DiCindioLaw, LLC to schedule a free initial consultation.
DiCindio Law, LLC
29 S Walnut St
West Chester, PA 19382