Part of the evaluation that an attorney conducts for a DUI case is determining whether it is better for the defendant to accept or negotiate a plea bargain or to go to trial. DUI defendants in Ohio have the choice of requesting public defenders or retaining private attorneys, both of which evaluate the best course action for the defendants.
Plea bargains are deals in which the defendants agree to enter guilty pleas. In a majority of cases, the guilty pleas are for lesser charges than those that the defendants would face at trial or for less severe consequences. As part of plea bargains, DUI defendants may agree to do some community service or complete alcohol diversion programs.
The court system actually encourages plea bargains, and they have become necessary because of overwhelmed jails and court calendars. The decision whether to agree to a plea bargain might also be based on the likelihood of a guilty verdict, the evidence against the defendant and how serious the alleged crime is.
For example, a plea bargain for a defendant facing a DUI charge may be reached if the prosecution approaches the defendant and defense attorney to offer a lesser charge such an open alcohol container violation or reckless driving. On the other hand, a plea bargain could be reached if the evidence against the defendant is strong and the defendant agrees to enter a guilty plea for DUI in exchange for less severe sentencing than a court would otherwise impose.
The sentence for a DUI charge varies depending in part on the number of times the defendant has been charged in the past. Less severe charges might result in driver’s license suspension, up to one year in jail, fines or a combination. While accepting a plea bargain could keep the consequences to a minimum, it could also save the defendant money by avoiding a potentially lengthy trial.