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Should I accept a plea agreement in my drunk driving case?

Without knowing the details of a particular DUI case in Maryland, it is unwise to advise the defendant either way. However, explaining some of the elements of drunk driving plea bargains can help defendants make an informed decision.

Plea bargaining in DUI cases is a negotiation tool the defense and the prosecution uses to avoid a trial. In a plea bargain, the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge than he or she would in a trial. As a result, the penalties may be less severe, which is an incentive to many facing such charges.

Other incentives to accept a plea bargain include reduced costs, reduced impact on the defendant's criminal record and, of course, the possibility of a lighter sentence. Choosing to enter into a plea bargain might mean that the defendant will perform community service or participate in an alcohol diversion program in lieu of a harsher sentence.

While a plea bargain does not take the possibility of paying fines or serving at least some jail time completely off the table, the punishment is usually less severe under such an agreement. The decision about whether or not to enter into a plea bargain is based on several factors such as the likelihood of a guilty verdict, the amount of evidence the prosecution possesses and the severity of the alleged crime.

Deciding to accept a plea bargain should not be done lightly. As with all criminal charges, the defendant should evaluate his or her case carefully, preferably under the guidance of a defense attorney. A strong attorney knows how to review the evidence against you and provide you with an unbiased opinion about your chances of winning in the courtroom.

Source: FindLaw, "DUI Plea Bargains," accessed Nov. 10, 2015

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