The Meaning of DUI Plea Bargains
An important task of defense counsel in many DUI-DWI cases is that of negotiating a plea bargain. Many states have plea bargaining statutes in their drunk or impaired driving laws that limit the negotiability of DUI-DWI offenses. The provisions of plea bargaining statutes vary widely from state to state, and defense counsel should be aware of the provisions of the local plea bargaining statute if one exists.
In addition to plea bargaining statutes, it is also common for a local judge or court to have a policy in regards to plea bargaining in drunk or impaired driving cases, and defense counsel should become aware of any such policy before entering into plea bargaining negotiations. Such policies often condition acceptable plea bargaining arrangements, in part at least, on the defendant’s BAC as reported by the police and on the defendant’s prior record of drunk or impaired driving offenses. There may also be local minimum sentencing guidelines.
Despite the bad publicity given to plea bargaining by many prosecutors, legislators, and judges, plea bargaining is a fact of life in most jurisdictions. Because of their caseloads, most courts in urban areas could not function were it not for plea bargaining. The concept of plea bargaining, it should be noted, has been approved in several cases by the highest court in the land.
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