If you were recently pulled over while driving, and eventually arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), you are likely worried about the outcome of your case. Like most people in your position, you probably want the entire episode behind you as soon as possible. While that is certainly understandable, be careful not to jump at the first offer made to you by the prosecutor. Specifically, be sure to consider the consequences of a DUI plea agreement before signing one. The best way to ensure that accepting a plea agreement is truly in your best interest is to consult with an experienced Nebraska DUI defense attorney.
How a Typical DUI Is Handled
Although no two DUI cases are handled exactly the same by the State of Nebraska, there are some common procedures the State is likely to follow, particularly if this is your first DUI charge. Not long after your arrest you will be required to appear in court. At that time, the judge will explain the charges against you and make sure you understand your rights. You will also be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you are not represented by an attorney, the judge may discuss your plans to retain representation with you as well. If you show up without an attorney to this court appearance, the prosecuting attorney may also offer you a plea agreement at that time. The prosecutor does this with the hope that you will jump at the chance to make this whole unpleasant “incident” go away as fast as possible.
Why You Should Not Sign a Plea Agreement without an Attorney
All too often, defendants only see that the plea agreement does not require any additional jail time and agree to sign it right then and there. Be smart and do not make this mistake. The prosecutor may try and convince you that the plea offer is a “one time only” offer in an effort to get you to sign on the dotted line. Again, this is only a ploy to get your agreement. The truth is that an experienced attorney may very well be able to get you a better plea agreement down the road.
The Consequences of Accepting a DUI Plea Agreement
What, you may be wondering, is so bad about accepting the first plea agreement the State offers to you? The answer is that there are a number of potential reasons why you shouldn’t accept an initial plea agreement offered by the prosecutor, including:
- Lack of legal advice — you have not had the opportunity to have an attorney of your choice review the agreement. Just as you would not sign a contract without have an attorney review it, don’t sign a plea agreement without doing the same to ensure you understand the terms of the agreement.
- It is very likely not the best offer – although the prosecuting attorney may make it sound that way, it is very unlikely that the initial plea agreement you are offered is truly he best offer the prosecutor can offer you. In fact, an experienced DUI defense attorney may be able to negotiate a significantly better plea agreement.
- The non–judicial consequences may be greater than you realize – accepting a plea agreement in a DUI means you are admitting guilt. Although the terms of the plea agreement may sound favorable – meaning you are not going to have to go back to jail – there are several negative consequences of a DUI that are not going to be found directly in the plea agreement itself, such as:
- Increased insurance rates for several years following the conviction
- Loss of current and/or future employment opportunities
- Disciplinary action for a professional license
- Interference with visitation or custody of minor children
- High costs associated with probation
- You might be able to avoid a conviction altogether. There is always the possibility that you could avoid a conviction; however, you will not know how likely this is in your case until an experienced DUI defense attorney reviews your case.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence, or DUI, in Nebraska contact the Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney.