Are The Majority Of DUI Cases In Washington Settled By A Plea Deal?
The vast majority of DUI cases in Washington State settle and do not go to trial. Instead, there is usually a compromise between the prosecution and the defendant that both parties can accept. This is generally known as plea bargaining. Without plea bargaining, the court system would be crippled with a backlog. In 2019 alone, there were 29,972 new DUI charges filed throughout the State of Washington.
Of those, only 1.8% of the DUI charges went to trial. A more sobering statistic is that only .34% of individuals charged with a DUI in 2019 were found not guilty after trial. Also, 10,743 people (35.8%) pled guilty to a DUI in 2019. These numbers are not promising. This stems from the fact that if you have a breath or blood test over 0.08, and you can’t get the result suppressed on some legal reason, winning at a trial on a DUI is very difficult – this is the reason why DUI attorneys try to work out deals with prosecutors.
In 2019, 12,558 or 41.9% of individuals charged with a DUI made a plea deal with the prosecutor. This means that their DUI charge was reduced to a lesser charge, such as a negligent driving first degree or reckless driving. If your DUI attorney can work out a deal with the prosecutor and get you a lesser offense, it will be very beneficial in the long-term by avoiding the consequences that a DUI carries.
What Criteria Do You Consider When Determining Whether To Take A DUI Case To Trial Or Not?
As stated above, the vast majority of cases will not go to trial and the ones that do don’t have a considerable chance of success. However, whether a case should go to trial depends on the facts of the case.
For example, key criteria to determine whether or not to go to trial could include what the reasons that an individual was pulled over were, did the person perform the field sobriety test, how did they perform on those tests, does the prosecutor have a breath or blood test they can show to the jury, and any other relevant factors from the arrest.
It’s essential to look at the factors that the city or state has to prove that you were either over the legal limit or that your driving was affected by alcohol or drugs. If there’s no breath test or field sobriety test, and you were pulled over for speeding, that could be a reasonable case to take to trial. However, if your breath test is above 0.08, you were weaving in and out of the lanes, and you failed all of the field sobriety tests, then that’s a weak case to take to trial.
It comes down to the evidence that the prosecutor has against you to show the jury that you were, in fact, DUI. If there is a lot of evidence against you, then it makes more sense to try to work out a deal with the prosecutor rather than going to trial.
If Someone Is Found Guilty At A DUI Trial, Will The Punishment Be Harsher Than What Was Offered In The Plea Deal?
If an individual is found guilty at a DUI trial, the punishment may be harsher than the offer given in the plea deal. If you take the case to trial, prosecutors usually ask for more jail time. Ultimately, the Judge has the final say on the length of jail time a person is given. Some judges are more stringent than others, while some are more lenient. The outcome of the case depends on the facts and the presiding Judge.
For more information on Settling A DUI Case With A Plea Deal In WA, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (253) 201-2001 today.
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