Driving under the influence, or DUI, is one of the criminal offenses that tends to be considered differently than other crimes. Most people realize that, although driving while under the influence is illegal, most people who are arrested for DUI are not career criminals. Instead, they are everyday people who had a momentary lapse in judgment. If you are one of these people, the odds are good that you simply want to put the entire episode behind you as quickly as possible. You may be ready to admit you are guilty and accept your punishment. In that case, do you really need a Sarpy County DUI lawyer? Before you rush to accept a guilty plea agreement without consulting an attorney, considering the following reasons why you could benefit from retaining a Sarpy County DUI lawyer even if you are willing to admit your guilt.
The Prosecutor’s Burden
In the American legal system, the presumption is that an accused is innocent until proven guilty. The State, through the prosecuting attorney, has the burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This burden is a serious one and the level of proof necessary to overcome the “beyond a reasonable doubt” threshold is substantial. As a defendant, you owe it to yourself, your family, and your future, to make sure the prosecutor can meet that burden before you agree to plead guilty. In a DUI prosecution, there are several things that commonly prevent the prosecutor from being able to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, including:
- The initial stop might have been illegal, in which case everything that happened afterward is like inadmissible in court.
- The law enforcement officer might not have had probable cause to arrest you, making everything after that point inadmissible.
- The breath test results could be inadmissible for a wide variety of reasons, making it very difficult to prove that you were “under the influence.”
- The breath test results could be admissible, but their accuracy might be questionable…again making it difficult to prove that you were “under the influence.”
If there is a strong possibility that the State cannot prove your guilt, why would you accept a guilty plea agreement? Only an experienced Sarpy County DUI lawyer can review the facts and circumstances of your case and provide you with an opinion regarding the strength of the State’s case against you.
Understanding All the Consequences of a Conviction
Being an upstanding and honest citizen, you feel that if you were drinking and driving you should just admit it and accept your punishment. While this is certainly honorable, make sure you understand all the potential negative consequences of doing so, including:
- Jail time
- Fees, costs and fines that could exceed $5,000
- Probation that could include additional costs, time lost from work, and the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, also at your cost
- Loss of driving privileges
- Increased insurance rate – sometimes 3x as high – for several years
- Professional discipline if you hold any type of license
- Interference with visitation and/or custody of minor children
- Disqualification for immigration change of status
All Plea Agreements Are Not Created Equal
If you are still determined to accept your guilt, keep in mind that all guilty plea agreements are not created equal. Like all agreements, the terms of your guilty plea agreement are open for negotiation. You are not required to simply accept the initial agreement offered to you by the prosecutor. An experienced DUI attorney can negotiate an agreement that is as favorable to you as possible. The difference could be substantial in terms of jail time, fines, and/or the length and terms of your probation.
Contact a Sarpy County DUI Lawyer
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in the State of Nebraska, contact an Sarpy County DUI lawyer at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.