Getting arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Pennsylvania can be a nerve-wracking time in your life. Anyone worried about what their next steps might be would likely benefit from consulting with an experienced Pennsylvania DUI lawyer on the options they have available for their case.
The reason most people should seek out a DUI attorney is that each individual case will have a completely different set of facts, circumstances, available evidence and options that present themselves. Differing personalities in terms of which judge is presiding or which prosecutor is handling the case can also affect the options available given past experiences with these individuals.
All that said, there are only a few general plea options when facing DUI charges.
Although there are always notable exceptions, a no-strings-attached guilty plea is typically not a good route to take for someone facing a DUI charge. There are often facts of the case to consider that can strengthen your chances at avoiding the full extent of the charges. Pleading guilty outright can also have unintended consequences, such as looking more glaringly negative on work applications or carrying harsh penalties that the defendant did not anticipate.
Generally speaking, there are many other options present that do not communicate to the prosecution “do what thou wilt.” By weighing these options and determining the best course to move forward, DUI defendants have a much greater control over their case and can therefore seek a more favorable outcome. Even if that outcome is only more beneficial by measure of a few small degrees, it still represents a better option than an untethered guilty plea.
- 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 almost never a viable option.
- 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.
- Plea Bargaining
Pleading guilty to partial or lessor charges in exchange for more lax penalties is often a strategy 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 in order to determine the one that works most in your favor. Call (215) 940-1200 for a free consultation today.