One state that permits a plea of impaired driving is Utah. In this state, impaired driving is considered a class B misdemeanor. The maximum penalty imposed for this offense is six months in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Ways to Receive Reduced Charge
In states that permit a plea to a reduced charge, there are generally two ways to receive the reduced charge. The first way is if the defendant’s criminal defense lawyer negotiates a plea agreement with the prosecutor for the reduced charge. In this arrangement, the defendant agrees to plead guilty. In exchange, he or she does not face the original stiffer charges and potential penalties. Plea bargains help criminal defendants because they allow them to escape the uncertainty of a trial by jury. They assist prosecutors and the court system by allowing the prosecutor to receive a conviction and to free up time for more serious cases. This also helps prevent the docket from being flooded with cases that can be resolved out of court.
When a person pleads guilty to an offense, the court has the final word on what sentence to impose. The judge can consider the recommendation by the prosecutor but is not usually bound by it. Additionally, some plea agreements include probation or are enforced under a first offender type program in which the defendant must comply with additional terms. This may include seeing a probation officer, completing an alcohol treatment program, installing an ignition interlock device or completing other conditions imposed by the court. In these types of situations, the plea is usually conditioned on successfully fulfilling the terms imposed by the court.
Another way that a person may be able to plead to impaired driving is if the prosecutor agrees to this charge and the court finds that this plea is in the interest of justice. With this type of arrangement, the charge is not conditioned on successfully completing terms imposed by the court. Instead, the plea is entered into immediately as the reduced charge without threat that it will be upgraded later to a DUI charge.
When Prosecutors Might Agree
The prosecutor must generally agree to providing a lesser charge. The main factor used to determine whether the prosecutor may agree is if the defendant had a BAC under .14. Other factors may include whether the drunk driving offense was related to an accident that caused property damage or injury. Additionally, the prosecutor may consider any criminal history of the defendant.
Reasons to Accept a Plea
There are several advantages to accepting a plea bargain. One is that many of the negative penalties can be avoided. Defendants may be able to avoid jail time altogether. With a reduced charge, the defendant may not lose his or her driver’s license or may lose it for less time than he or she would have for the more serious offense of DUI. Some states have mandatory penalties for first time DUI offenses, and these can often be avoided with a plea of impaired driving or similar charge.
Reasons Not to Accept a Plea
Accepting a plea bargain is not always in the defendant’s best interests. For example, if the prosecution’s case against him or her is weak, a DUI lawyer may be able to get the case dismissed or get the defendant acquitted. This can help the defendant avoid all of the possible criminal penalties associated with a DUI conviction. Additionally, a criminal conviction can sometimes affect a person’s professional license, driver’s license, ability to maintain legal immigration status and ability to maintain standing in the community. It is important that a criminal defendant carefully consider the possible ramifications associated with accepting a plea agreement.