DUI Plea Bargaining in Tennessee
You will face a variety of harsh penalties if arrested for DUI. This will be the case regardless of whether it’s your first charge or if you are accused of being a repeat offender.
If convicted of DUI, jail time is automatically required, and more time and fines could be added depending on the circumstances, the number of prior DUI convictions, and if any injuries were caused as a result of the impaired driving. Therefore, in certain cases, it may be to your advantage to reach a plea agreement and avoid harsh sentencing, loss of your driver’s license, or other consequences of a DUI offense.
Why Plea Bargain?
Both parties may have an interest in reaching a compromise. A plea frees up the already busy court system in your area and avoids the pressure, cost, and time of a full trial. Even though DUI charges are aggressively prosecuted, an experienced DUI defense lawyer may be able to persuade the state’s attorney to dismiss or reduce a DUI charge by showing him or her that the case is weak, the arresting officer did not follow the correct procedure, or that your constitutional rights were violated.
You may wish to seek a plea agreement, especially if it involves a lesser offense, in order to resolve your case more quickly, save money, or avoid the severe consequences often associated with a DUI conviction. By ending your case prior to trial, you achieve a certain outcome, which often eliminates the anxiety caused by having to wait for a verdict. It may also be beneficial if you’ve had difficulty missing work to appear in court in the past or feel you’d have difficulty appearing moving forward.
An experienced DUI attorney can inform you of the pros and cons of accepting a plea agreement based on your specific case. They can inform you of realistic penalties and conditions you may face, as well as provide recommendations on reasonable items to request when negotiating an agreement.
Pleading to a lesser charge often eliminates jail time altogether, but might still include some reduced amount of jail time for second or subsequent convictions for DUI.
Other alternatives to jail time can include:
- Traffic classes. A judge could require you to attend a class or classes that cover the risks of driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
- Vehicular restrictions. You may still face a suspension of your license for a year in some circumstances. Sometimes a plea agreement may include the requirement that you operate a vehicle only if it is equipped with an ignition interlock device.
- Substance/lifestyle restrictions. You may be ordered to not consume alcohol or illegal drugs for a certain period of time. Arrests or citations for these offenses could lead to additional jail time or less inclination by the prosecutor’s office to approve plea agreements in the future.
Overall, the Tennessee court system can be frightening if you’re new to it and confusing even if you’re familiar with it. Over the years, state lawmakers have made DUI regulations even more strict, which is why an experienced DUI attorney can be valuable in helping you navigate the process.