How Many DUI Cases Go to Trial? | The Answer Might Surprise You!
What many drivers do not realize is that getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Texas is not a one-way ticket to court and subsequently to jail. There are many ways that DUI cases are resolved, some of which do not always involve having to go to trial.
One of the factors that work in your favor if you find yourself in such a situation is that DUI trials are usually regarded as an extra burden on the already overwhelmed criminal justice system. This means with a good criminal defense lawyer by your side, you may never have to go through a jury trial and face the unpleasant possibility of a guilty verdict.
Out of the many DUI arrests that occur every year, it is surprising that less than 2% ever go to trial. DUI charges in Texas are considered misdemeanors, which carry the possibility of jail time. It is for this reason that DUI attorneys avoid taking a DUI case to a jury trial.
The vast majority of DUI cases end in a plea agreement, while some have the DUI charges dismissed entirely. However, for this to happen, you need a team of experienced criminal defense lawyers fighting for you.
At Sparks Law Firm, we have helped many arrested drivers avoid having to go to trial for DUI cases. With our expert guidance, there is always a way to find the legal answers you are seeking, so give us a call at (817) 381-7846 for a free case evaluation.
What Happens During a DUI Arrest?
Although the specifics of each arrest do change from one DUI case to another, most DUI arrests follow the same general pattern, which is:
A driver is pulled over and the police officer may ask a few questions and if they feel they have probable cause to do so, they will administer some field sobriety tests. If you agree to further breath and blood testing, you will be taken to a place where these can be done.
While waiting for the chemical test results, you will be taken to jail while your vehicle is searched and then towed to the nearest local impound yard. The police officers may want to question you further, which you have the right to refuse and to request to speak to your DUI defense lawyer.
In the absence of any extenuating factors, such as the presence of a minor in the vehicle or an excessively high blood alcohol content, you will be awarded bail and released until your court date.
Hiring a DUI Defense Lawyer
At this point, it’s time to call a good DUI lawyer and start preparing to either go to trial or consider entering into a plea deal. Most DUI attorneys will advocate for a plea agreement although the circumstances may mean having to go to trial is unavoidable.
Factors To Consider After a DUI Arrest
Not every DUI charge has to go to trial, which is why it is necessary to look closely at the factors of each DUI case before choosing the option that serves the best interest of the defendant.
The decision to enter into a plea deal is not to be taken lightly because it requires, first and foremost, that you plead guilty to the charges being leveled against you. It is for this reason that your DUI lawyer has to give you proper advice based on:
How severe the DIU charges are and likelihood of a not guilty verdict
Whether the prosecution is willing to negotiate a plea agreement
The potential impact on your driver's license in the event of a DUI conviction
Your own willingness to go to trial
What Happens in a DUI Trial?
If a plea deal is off the table and you have no choice but to go to trial and face your DUI charges, you can expect to go through the following:
The arraignment is the prosecution's first step in taking a DUI case to trial. It involves the criminal charges being read in open court and at this point, you will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty.
This is also where the prosecution will hand over the relevant documents outlining the DUI charges against you and the evidence they have to support these charges. Your DUI lawyers will also be asked to hand over any evidence relevant to the criminal case, such as witness statements.
In most criminal cases, there will be a period of a few weeks between the arraignment and the next court appearance and it is during this time that your defense attorneys will get to work on whether it’s better to go to trial or request a plea agreement.
If you decide not to go to trial, then your top-rated DWI attorney in Fort Worth will contact the prosecution, and negotiations will begin on what punishment you will receive in return for pleading guilty to the DUI charges.
In situations where other factors prevent a plea agreement from being considered, or your lawyer feels there is enough reasonable doubt to mount a strong defense, then it will be time to get ready to go to trial.
Going to trial is not a pleasant experience. However, after making sure the client understands enough of the case to make an informed decision, there may be no other choice but to take the case to trial.
The arresting officer will be asked to testify for the prosecution and your DUI attorneys can cross-examine. All the evidence will be analyzed and the jury will be asked to decide. Typically, most DUI cases take less than a couple of weeks to conclude.
What Is a Plea Bargain?
A plea deal is an agreement offered by the prosecutor in which the defendant pleads guilty to all or some of the DUI charges and gets a lesser sentence.
Considering the unfavorable record or success when DUI cases go to trial, a plea bargain is something you need to seriously discuss with your lawyer during the free initial consultation.
Many DUI Cases Are Resolved Outside of Court
Very few DUI cases go to trial. The high potential of the jury finding their clients guilty makes lawyers try to avoid going to trial at all costs.
Therefore, the following are the two possibilities if a defendant practices their constitutional right to enter a plea agreement:
Charges Are Dismissed
In situations where a lawyer can successfully argue against the evidence being brought against their clients, or show that the rights of the defendant were violated, the charges may be dismissed entirely without the need to go to trial.
Plead Guilty To a Lesser Charge
If a plea offer is put forward and accepted, the details will be brought before the judge who will have the final say regarding the suitable penalties to be levied against the defendant who has pleaded guilty.
How Often Are DUI Cases Dismissed in Texas?
In cases where the defendant pleads guilty to the DUI charges, there is almost no chance of getting their case dismissed. Pleading not guilty is not much better either, with only a 15% success rate for getting charges dismissed.
The best option is to avoid going to trial in the first place if you do not want to risk being found guilty and facing the possibility of a stiffer sentence.
What Is the Best-Case Scenario for a DUI?
One of the things we get asked a lot during the free initial consultation is what are the chances of avoiding jail time or a license suspension?
Getting all the criminal charges dropped before having to set foot in a courtroom and having no record against you is the best-case scenario for a DUI case.
However, if there is conclusive evidence against you, such as chemical test results or witness statements, the best-case scenario would be to avoid jail time and have your license confiscated. In this case, you will be fortunate to walk away with a fine as the only punishment.
Potential Defenses You Might Use During a DUI Trial
If you have no choice but to go to trial, the following are some of the defenses that can be employed by an attorney to fight the case:
Questioning the breathalyzer tests
Contamination of blood and breath samples
The use of improper interrogation techniques
Lack of probable cause for being pulled over
Violation of your civil rights
Alternative reasons for failing the breathalyzer test, such as being on certain kinds of medication
Do you Really Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
While it is your right to defend yourself in court, this is not always the smart choice. In fact, most judges will try as much as possible to convince a defendant to seek legal counsel, and if they cannot afford to do so then the court will provide one for them.
Contact Top Tier Criminal Defense Attorneys Today!
Have you been arrested and are facing DUI charges? Going to trial may not be the best option for you. What you need is proper legal advice to help make an informed decision. A good lawyer can help provide answers to important questions like how many years you get for DUI manslaughter or how much a DWI costs in Texas. At Sparks Law Firm, we strongly believe in taking a proactive approach to our defense strategy. Give us a call today and schedule a free case evaluation.