Types of DUI Pleas in Pennsylvania

3 types of plea bargains

A plea bargain, also known as a plea deal, is a negotiated resolution between you, your attorney, and the prosecutor. Plea bargains often involve reducing your charge or sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to a lesser crime, such as reckless driving.

If you were arrested and charged with DUI in Pennsylvania, it’s in your best interest to contact an attorney and ask about possible plea options. Every case is different, but many people charged with DUI are able to have their charges reduced or dropped altogether.

If you were arrested, call Pennsylvania DUI attorney Steven Kellis. With over 25 years of DUI experience, he’ll work hard to help you understand the different types of pleas and get the results you need. 

Call now for a free consultation.

Different Types of Plea Bargains in DUI Cases

Each DUI case has a completely different set of facts, circumstances, and available evidence. Differing personalities in terms of which judge is presiding or which prosecutor is handling the case can also affect the options available.

All that said, here are the 3 types of plea bargains for DUI. 


There are always notable exceptions, but a no-strings-attached guilty plea is typically not a good route someone facing a DUI charge should take.

Often, facts of the case can strengthen your chances of avoiding the full extent of the charges. Pleading guilty outright can also have unintended consequences, such as interfering with job applications or carrying harsh penalties that the defendant did not anticipate.

Generally speaking, there are several other, superior types of pleas that don’t communicate “do what thou wilt” to the prosecution.

By weighing these options and determining the best course to move forward, DUI defendants have much greater control over their case and can therefore seek a more favorable outcome. Even if that outcome is only more beneficial by the measure of a few small degrees, it still represents a better option than an untethered guilty plea.

Not Guilty

Defending against a DUI charge can mean challenging the prosecutor’s evidence. In certain situations, the court can rule completely in favor of the defendant. But when an arrest for DUI is made, there is typically a matter of strong evidence weighing against the defendant.

In these instances, trying to get certain elements of evidence dismissed in order to reduce or drop charges can be a more viable option than alleging complete and total innocence. Other motions can have similar benefits. A “not guilty” plea is entered to begin these proceedings.

Nolo Contendere or “No Contest”

No contest pleas for minor traffic violations can be an option in some courts at the discretion of the judge, but in most Pennsylvania DUI cases, the plea is not recognized. 

When it is, it still usually carries all of the public record penalties and other consequences of a guilty plea. Therefore, pleading “nolo” is rarely a viable option.

Time Limit on Plea Bargains

Plea bargains aren’t indefinite; they can be withdrawn at any time. Some prosecutors even withdraw their offer at the start of the trial, so it’s best to work out a possible deal as soon as possible to avoid losing your bargain.

A plea deal can be offered by either party or the judge at any point in the case. Sometimes, a bargain is offered at the beginning of the case if the prosecutor doesn’t have enough time or resources to negotiate with the defense or take the case to trial. In challenging situations, the prosecution might lose a witness before the trial.

Plea Bargaining Works With the Help of an Expert Attorney

Pleading guilty to partial or lesser charges in exchange for more lax penalties is a strategy often employed by prosecutors in an effort to expedite the trial process. These DUI plea bargains can be a good option, but only when the totality of possibilities is considered with an attorney. 

Otherwise, you could be taken advantage of despite having a favorable position.

Enlisting the help of an experienced Pennsylvania DUI attorney can help you weigh all of your plea options to determine the one that works most in your favor.

Call (215) 977-4183 for a free consultation today and to learn more about how to get a better plea bargain.