If you’re charged with a DUI/DWI in White Plains, NY, it makes sense that you just want to get on with your life as quickly as possible. DUI/DWI charges are stressful! You might think that just pleading guilty might be the easiest way to deal with it.
But pleading guilty can have serious lifelong consequences in New York. DUIs are typically misdemeanor criminal offenses. But if you’ve had prior convictions or you caused injuries or deaths, the offense could escalate to a felony.
Pleading guilty without an attorney’s advice can make things worse. It is extremely difficult to withdraw a guilty plea. Before you plead guilty, take time to consider your options!
Consequences to Pleading Guilty
To avoid this conviction haunting you for life, it’s essential to understand the consequences of pleading guilty and what you could do instead.
Pleading guilty to a DUI/DWI in White Plains, NY can result in:
- Jail time
- If it’s your first DUI offense, pleading guilty could result in jail time. But it’s also likely that a court will suspend jail time and only mandate you to serve one or two years of supervised probation. But don’t count on the jail time being suspended. A judge could easily order jail time, especially if you are a multiple offender or your case was unusually serious.
- High fines
- Mandatory driving school
- Alcohol abuse screening
- Required community service
- Lengthy license suspensions and restrictions
- Increased penalties if you have prior DUI/DWI convictions.
- The negative consequences of a criminal record. Pleading guilty results in a criminal conviction, which means you will have a lifelong criminal record. This can impact your job, professional opportunities, education, your ability to qualify for benefits such as Medicaid or Medicare, social standing, and much more.
- A permanent mark on your driving record.
- Possible problems with your driver’s license in the future. A guilty plea will be reported to the New York driver’s license agency, and can then be reported to the National Driver’s License Registry. These digital records will be accessible to driver’s licensing agencies across the country.
- Any combination of the above penalties!
Alternatives to a Guilty Plea
It doesn’t usually ever benefit you to plead guilty at your first court date, explains DrivingLaws. If you plead “not guilty” in your first court appearance (called the arraignment), you will be given a new court date and a second chance to argue your case. This gives you and your attorney time to review the evidence and strategize your best course of action. Possible alternatives to a guilty plea in White Plains include:
- You can plead guilty to a less serious charge. This is called a plea bargain. Plea bargains mean that you will be pleading guilty and admitting guilt, but to a less serious charge. Plea bargains can often have significant benefits and require much less severe penalties. Plea bargains can sometimes help you avoid jail time. But plea bargains are also complex. You need to understand that by entering your plea, you’ll necessarily be giving up some constitutional rights such as the right to remain silent. You might also forfeit your rights to cross-examine the witnesses against you, and the right to a jury trial, says DrivingLaws. Talk to your attorney about how this impacts your case.
- You can try to plead innocence and have your charges dropped. Talk with your attorney about your chances of winning if you take your case to court with the intention of avoiding any conviction. If you did break the law, this will be very difficult. Normally, it’s a much safer bet to enter a plea bargain and serve out reduced penalties.
Discover Your Options
Often, the prosecution has flaws in their evidence or arguments. Many times, the prosecution will accept a plea bargain if they have doubts about the strength of their case against you or their ability to prove your offense at trial.
An experienced White Plains, NY attorney can help you figure out if you have any viable defenses that would merit taking your case to trial. An attorney like Darren DeUrso – who knows the nuances of New York state law when it comes to DUI/DWI and criminal defense, can help you discover your options for plea bargains and other alternatives to the serious consequences you might be facing. Darren DeUrso can evaluate your case and find your best chances of dropping or reducing your charges on defenses such as police misconduct, breath test result errors, and other flaws in the prosecution.