Guilty pleas are an American scourge. 94% of criminal convictions in the United States come from guilty pleas. Thousands of innocent people have pleaded guilty to crimes they didn’t commit, including DUIs.
When you are presented with a plea bargain, you may be tempted to take it. But a guilty plea has many different consequences. Before you strike a deal with a prosecutor, you should understand the facts.
What are the penalties for DUI charges in the state of Florida? What happens to people who plead guilty to felonies? Are there alternatives to a plea deal?
Answer these questions and you can find your path forward after a DUI arrest. Here is your quick guide.
You Will Lose Your License
Florida DUI laws make license revocation mandatory after any DUI. If the DUI is a first-time offense that results in no bodily injuries, the state will revoke the driver’s license for at least 180 days. The state can extend the revocation period to a maximum of one year.
A second-time offense has a minimum revocation period of five years. This occurs regardless of whether or not the DUI resulted in an injury.
In order to get your license back, you must go to DUI school. You then need to apply for hardship reinstatement.
You must prove that you need to drive for business purposes or employment purposes. A license for business purposes lets you drive to and from work, church, and medical appointments. A license for employment purposes limits you to driving only for work-related matters.
Going on errands or detours will lead to your hardship license getting revoked. You can also lose your license if you fail to pay child support, skip court hearings, or get into an accident.
Your Premiums May Increase
All car insurance companies have policies that raise premiums after a DUI offense. Each company is different, but you may need to pay an extra $1,000 a year because of your higher premiums.
Some companies can also revoke your insurance outright. They may do this in cases when the DUI resulted in an injury or significant property damage.
You may not be able to change your policies. Insurance companies can examine your driving record and see if you have DWI charges on it. If you do, they can decline to offer you insurance.
It does not matter if your conviction came from a plea deal or not. The only way your DUI will not affect your insurance is if the offense is removed from your driving record. But your DUI can stay on your record for years, and it may be permanently in place.
You May Plead Guilty to a Felony
Plea deals can mean a few different things. In exchange for pleading guilty, a prosecutor may reduce your criminal penalties. You may avoid incarceration and receive probation and community service.
However, DUI charges are so severe that a prosecutor may insist that you plead guilty to a felony. Florida has passed laws allowing people with felony convictions to vote. But if you have outstanding fees or fines, you lose your right to vote, even years after your sentence.
Pleading guilty will also create a criminal record for you. Employers can conduct a background check, find your criminal record, and deny you job opportunities.
You May Face Other Charges and Penalties
A DUI case may involve a variety of offenses. Many prosecutors like to charge drivers with traffic violations that the court considers to be criminal offenses, including reckless driving.
You may be able to get your DUI charges thrown out in a plea deal. But you may plead guilty to another offense that puts you in jail, gets your license revoked, and creates a criminal record.
In the future, a DUI offense you pleaded guilty to will count as a first-time offense. If you’re charged and convicted of another DUI, you face stiffer criminal penalties.
A No Contest Plea Is an Alternative
A no-contest plea means that you will not dispute the charge in court. In a plea deal, a no-contest plea functions similarly to a guilty plea. You may still face incarceration or other penalties.
However, a no-contest plea means you are not admitting to the DUI offense. Lawyers in a civil trial cannot use your plea against you, so you can contest a civil case on equal footing as the plaintiff.
Some judges do not allow no-contest pleas, and your DUI lawyer may advise you against one. Talk to your lawyer about your options before you decide what your right move is.
A Deal Offer Can Be a Sign of Weakness
A prosecutor may offer you a plea deal just to get your case off their books. They may think that they will lose at trial, and a deal may be their only way to get a conviction.
Take a look at the terms of the plea deal and at the other evidence in the case. If you think the prosecutor’s evidence is thin, you should prepare for a trial.
Start building your defense before you decide whether or not to take a plea deal. You can fight back against DUI charges by pointing out that you were not the driver or had no physical control of your car.
You May Not Want a Guilty Plea
A guilty plea will not end your DUI case. You will lose your license for months, if not years. Your insurance premiums will increase, and you will live with a criminal record.
A prosecutor may force you to plead guilty to a felony or press for other charges. Before you accept a deal, you need to look at the terms and consider your alternatives. You can try a no contest plea, or you can press for a trial.
Your best approach is to hire a DUI legal professional. RHINO Lawyers serves the Tampa area. Contact us today.
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RHINO Lawyers can help and guide you through a system molded by law enforcement, judges, and lawyers for decades. Having won cases for our clients in similar circumstances, our criminal defense team knows what it takes to fight on your behalf.
Let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at (844) RHINO-77.