Pleading Guilty to a DUI

Should I plead guilty to my DUI charge?

Many DUI cases will end with the entrance of a guilty plea.  In some cases, negotiating a strong plea bargain will produce the best outcome for your DUI charge.  However, entering a plea of guilty without representation and absent the advice of counsel could have long-term repercussions.  Below, our Phoenix, Arizona DUI lawyers discuss whether you should plead guilty to a DUI charge.

What You Waive by Pleading Guilty

Before you entertain the idea of entering a guilty plea to your DUI charge, you must understand what you are giving up by doing so.  By pleading guilty, you will waive fundamental constitutional rights, including your right to cross-examine witnesses, your right to remain silent, and your right to a jury trial.  Essentially, by pleading guilty, you will no longer have the right in this case to challenge the evidence allegedly gathered against you.

Further, you need to be aware of the range of potential consequences you may face. In Arizona, for a first offense DUI, you could be put in jail for between 24 hours to ten days, receive a fine of $250 or more, and have your license suspended from between 90 and 360 days.  If you enter a guilty plea without first negotiating a deal with the prosecution, you could receive any of the above-listed penalties.

Lastly, it is important to recognize that once you enter the guilty plea, you will be convicted of the offense of a DUI.  That offense will remain on your permanent criminal record and you must now answer yes if asked on an official form whether you have been convicted of a crime.  

When Pleading Guilty May Make Sense

With these consequences fully understood, it should be noted that at times pleading guilty is your best course of action.  If your BAC was well over the legal limit or the prosecution has irrefutable evidence of your intoxication, you could face a high likelihood of conviction, absent other mitigating factors. Given these circumstances, your best defense may involve having your defense counsel negotiate for the best possible plea deal.  The most important thing for defendants to remember is that you should never blindly enter a plea of guilty without legal assistance as this could result in longer jail time, stiffer penalties, and prolonged loss of your license.