Can My DUI Be Reduced to Reckless Driving or Another Charge?
Almost everyone who is arrested for DUI wants to avoid a DUI conviction. One way to avoid that is to enter a guilty or nolo contendere plea to Reckless Driving or another lesser charge. The issue is getting to the point where that is a possibility. It is important to know that only the prosecutor can amend a charge. The Judge cannot amend or reduce a charge. It is also important to know that a plea to any charge arising from a case will prevent that person from being able to restrict their record. So if someone pleads guilty to a Reckless Driving or Speeding charge stemming from a DUI case, the DUI arrest on their record will be shown to be dismissed or amended, but can still be visibile on background checks.
The possibility of having a DUI reduced depends on the facts of the case, the defendant's criminal history, what he/she has done in mitigation, and the philosophy and personality of the individual prosecutor and his/her office. Do not expect your lawyer to simply be able to walk in to a courtroom or prosecutor's office, slap him on the back, get a sweetheart deal, and walk out.
The biggest factor in assessing any DUI is the facts of the case. How did the defendant drive and interact with the police officers? Was there an accident or injuries involved? How did the officers handle the investigation? How did the defendant perform on the field sobriety evaluations? Did the officer administer them properly? Is there a breath or blood test? What are the results? Were the procedures for obtaining that test done properly? All these questions and more are important in determining the likelihood of getting a DUI reduced or whether the State can prove its case.
The next issue is whether the Defendant has any criminal history. The more prior arrests, particulary for DUI, will make it less likely that a prosecutor will be willing to reduce the DUI. Another relevant factor is mitigation. What has the defendant done since the arrest? Have they sought an alcohol/drug evaluation or treatment? Have they attended a DUI school or performed some community service? Being proactive after arrest is always a good idea to give yourself a better chance for a non-DUI resolution to your case.
Finally, some prosecutors take a hard line stance against DUI and will tell you can either plead guilty to DUI or go to trial. Some prosecutors are more flexible, and some are subject to the orders of their superiors, who are elected officials. Sometimes the timing of your case is major factor. If a prosecutor has recently reduced or dismissed a number of DUI's just before yours, he/she might be less likely to do so. If there was just a recent case in the news about an impaired driver causing a fatality or serious injury, the prosecutor might be less willing to reduce a DUI.
Ultimately, there are DUI's that get reduced and DUI's that do not get reduced, and there's no way to know exactly if it will happen in your case until you have an attorney involved and advocating for you.
If you are charged with DUI, feel free to contact me.