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DUI Plea Bargains in California: Weighing the Pros and Cons

DUI Plea Bargains in California: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Charged with a DUI in California?

Being charged with a DUI in California can be a daunting experience. Depending on the circumstances, you could be facing hefty fines, a suspended driver’s license, and even jail time. In some cases, however, you may accept a plea bargain to reduce the charges and penalties against you. In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of DUI plea bargains in California and provide tips for navigating the plea-bargaining process. 

The most obvious first tip can be stated upfront. Hire an attorney who specializes in DUIs. Jose Velasquez, nicknamed “The People’s Lawyer,” with over 37 years of experience,offers free consultation in the Santa Cruz area. He is a highly qualified attorney who can be reached at velasquezlawoffice.com and by phone at (831) 424-5680

What are the Statistics on DUIs in California?

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), there were over 114,000 DUI arrests in California in 2019. This represents a slight decrease from the previous year but still accounts for a significant portion of the state’s total arrests. The DMV also notes that most DUI arrests in California are first-time offenders, although repeat offenders are more likely to be involved in accidents and face harsher penalties. Additionally, the DMV reports that the average cost of a DUI conviction in California can be over $10,000, including fines, legal fees, and increased insurance premiums.

Two Sides to California Plea Bargains

1. Successful DUI Plea Bargain:

In one high-profile case, a woman in Santa Ana, California, was charged with DUI after she crashed her car into a tree. Despite having a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, her attorney was able to negotiate a plea bargain that reduced the charges to reckless driving. As a result, the woman was able to avoid jail time and keep her driver’s license.

2. Unsuccessful DUI Plea Bargain:

In another case, a man in Los Angeles, California, was charged with DUI after he was pulled over for driving erratically. Despite his attorney’s efforts to negotiate a plea bargain, the prosecutor refused to budge on the charges and penalties. The man ultimately decided to go to trial but was convicted of DUI and faced significant fines and a suspended driver’s license. In this case, the plea bargain negotiations were unsuccessful in reducing the charges and penalties against the defendant.

Pros of DUI Plea Bargains in California

Pros of DUI Plea Bargains in California

  • Reduced Charges and Penalties 

One of the main benefits of accepting a DUI plea bargain in California is the possibility of reduced charges and penalties. For example, instead of being convicted of a DUI, you may be able to plead guilty to a lesser charge, such as reckless driving. This can result in lower fines, shorter probation periods, and no jail time.

  • Faster Resolution of the Case 

Accepting a plea bargain can also result in a faster resolution of your case. Trials can take months or even years to conclude, while a plea bargain can often be reached within a matter of weeks. This can be a significant advantage if you’re eager to put the legal process behind you and move on with your life.

  • Avoiding the Uncertainty of a Trial 

Going to trial can be a risky proposition, as the outcome is never guaranteed. Even if you believe you have a strong case, there is always a chance that a judge or jury could rule against you. Accepting a plea bargain can help you avoid this uncertainty, as you will know precisely what the outcome of your case will be.

Cons of DUI Plea Bargains in California

  • Admitting Guilt to a Crime 

One of the significant drawbacks of accepting a DUI plea bargain is that you will be required to plead guilty to a crime. This can have long-term consequences, such as a criminal record, affecting your employment and housing opportunities.

  • Limited Options for Negotiating Terms 

When you accept a plea bargain, you essentially agree to the terms set forth by the prosecutor. While you may be able to negotiate some aspects of the deal, such as the length of your probation period, you will have limited options for changing the charges or penalties against you.

  • Potential Long-term Consequences 

Even if you accept a plea bargain and avoid jail time, you may still face long-term consequences, such as increased insurance premiums, difficulty finding employment, and a damaged reputation in your community.

Navigating the DUI Plea Bargaining Process in California

  • Hiring an Experienced DUI Attorney 

The first step in navigating California’s DUI plea bargaining process is hiring an experienced attorney. A skilled attorney can help you understand your options, negotiate with the prosecutor, and protect your rights.

  • Gathering Evidence to Support your Case 

Before entering into plea bargain negotiations, gathering as much evidence as possible to support your case is essential. This may include witness statements, police reports, and any other documentation related to your arrest.

  • Preparing for Negotiations 

Once you have gathered your evidence, your attorney will work with you to prepare for plea bargain negotiations. This may involve developing a strategy for presenting your case, identifying any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, and determining the best course of action for your situation.

  • Understanding the Terms of the Plea Bargain 

If you decide to accept a plea bargain, it’s important to carefully review the terms of the deal before signing anything. Your attorney can help you understand the consequences of each term and any potential long-term effects on your life.



While DUI plea bargains can offer certain advantages, they are not the right choice for everyone. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of accepting a plea bargain in California and seek legal guidance before making any decisions. By working with an experienced DUI attorney, such as Jose Velasquez, “The People’s Lawyer,” and understanding the plea-bargaining process, you can make an informed decision that protects your rights and best interests. Pick up the phone and call (831) 424-5680 today!

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