Have you been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois? If so, you may be wondering what to expect in terms of plea deal options. This would usually be the first step in the legal process, and it is important to have an idea of what might happen before you enter the courtroom.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), every year, drunk driving accidents account for approximately 10,000 fatalities. Therefore, states have enacted strict laws and punishments to try and deter individuals from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.
In this article, we'll give you an overview of what a typical DUI plea deal looks like in Illinois. We'll also touch on some of the issues that can influence the deal that you're offered.
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DUI Plea Bargain
A plea bargain is an agreement that is offered by the Prosecutor or State's Attorney in a criminal case or for criminal offenses generally. It allows the defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge or reduced set of charges in return for avoiding a trial.
Plea agreements are common in DUI cases because they offer defendants the opportunity to avoid the mandatory minimum penalties associated with a DUI conviction. These include a loss of a driver’s license, heavy fines, and jail time.
The first thing to understand about common plea deals is that they vary greatly from case to case. The specifics of your case will largely determine what kind of plea deal proposal you may be offered. The specific terms of the plea deal will vary depending on the severity of the charge and your prior criminal history. For example, if you have no prior DUI offenses, you're more likely to be offered a plea deal that includes probation and alcohol classes.
The State's Attorney will also take into account the severity of the offense, whether anyone was injured, and other factors when deciding what kind of reasonable plea agreement to offer. Usually, the Prosecutor will offer a plea deal that includes some combination of the following:
Installation of an ignition interlock device
Importantly, you should never agree to a plea bargain without first consulting with a criminal defense attorney. One with DUI legal experience will be able to evaluate the evidence against you and advise you on the available legal options in the plea bargaining process.
The Pros and Cons
One of the biggest benefits of plea bargaining for DUI in Illinois is that it can help you avoid a conviction. If you are convicted of DUI, you will face a number of negative consequences, including a mandatory minimum sentence of incarceration, driving license suspension, and steep fines.
Another benefit is that it can help you avoid going to trial. Trials can be lengthy and expensive, and there is always the risk that you could be found guilty and sentenced to the maximum penalties.
Of course, there are also risks involved in taking a plea deal for DUI in Illinois. One of the risks is that you will have to plead guilty to a crime. This means that you will have a criminal record, which can make it difficult to find a job, get housing, or obtain credit.
Additionally, if you are sentenced to a period of probation, you will be required to comply with the terms of your probation, which can include attending alcohol treatment programs and submitting to regular alcohol testing.
What's The Course of Action if You're Given a Plea Deal?
You need to first understand that a plea bargain is not always offered and is completely up to the prosecutor. If a plea bargain is offered, you need to decide if it is in your best interest to accept it.
This is not a decision that should be made lightly as it will have long-term consequences. If you are offered a plea deal, you need to get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer to understand the pros and cons of taking it. Don't be too quick to accept plea options. An attorney will be able to evaluate the evidence against you and advise you on whether or not it is in your best interests to take the plea deal.
Should You Opt For a Plea Bargain?
The short answer is, it depends. You should always consult with an experienced attorney to review your specific case and the evidence against you before making a decision on whether or not to accept a plea bargain.
There are certain benefits of accepting a plea bargain agreement for DUI, which can include avoiding the mandatory minimum penalties associated with a DUI conviction. However, there are also risks involved in accepting a plea deal, which is why you need to speak with an attorney before making a decision.
Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to accept a plea bargain for DUI will come down to what is in your best interests.
Alternatives to a Plea Deal
In some cases, there may be better options than taking a DUI-related plea bargain. This is why it is so critical to engage a DUI attorney for legal analysis, and offer strategic defenses in defending the criminal charges based on the best course of action.
For example, if the evidence against you is weak, you may be able to have the charges against you dismissed. Or, if the prosecutor does not have enough evidence to prove that you were DUI, you may be able to have the charges reduced to a lesser offense.
That said, some of the other options that may be available in your case include:
Challenging The Stop or Arrest
If the police did not have a valid reason for stopping or arresting you, then any evidence they obtained as a result of that stop or arrest may not be admissible in court. This can sometimes lead to the charges being dropped entirely.
Challenging The Breath Test Results
If the breath test results are inaccurate, then they may not be admissible in court. More often than not, the results of a breath test are accurate. But, if there are certain factors that can affect the accuracy of the results (like mouth alcohol), then the results may not be admissible and can lead to the charges being dropped entirely.
Plea to a Lesser Charge
In some cases, it may be possible to plead guilty to a lesser charge, such as a reckless driving charge. This happens when the prosecutor does not have enough evidence to prove that you were intoxicated but is willing to let you plead guilty to a lesser charge with lesser penalties. This can sometimes result in a reduced sentence.
This should be a last resort option, as going to trial is always a risk. But, if the evidence against you is weak, then you may be able to win at trial and have the charges against you dismissed entirely. In some cases, it may be possible to take your case to trial and if you are found not guilty, then you will not have to worry about any of the penalties associated with a DUI conviction.
Need Help With a DUI Charge?
Keep in mind that the decision on whether or not to accept a favorable plea bargain for DUI is a personal one. You need to sit down with an experienced DUI attorney and discuss your specific case. An experienced attorney will know what options are available in your specific case and can help you make the best decision for your situation. At our DUI firm in Naperville, we protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. For a consultation, call us at (630) 425-0250.