How Often Do DUI Cases Go to Trial?

If you’re facing charges of driving under the influence (DUI) and are feeling a bit nervous about how a judge or jury may rule in court, we’ve got good news for you.

The majority of DUI cases are settled long before they reach trial.

Even if your case does make its way to court, though, there’s still a good chance you can win or at the very least have the charges and fines reduced. Hiring an Atlanta DUI lawyer can minimize the time your case is in court.

Why Do So Few DUI Cases Go to Trial?

Although Georgia has some of the toughest DUI penalties in the country, the majority of DUI cases are settled through a plea bargain negotiated by your defense lawyer and the prosecutor.

These deals usually involve pleading guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for lighter consequences.

Some cases are dismissed altogether earlier in the process – such as during the hearing to appeal the suspension of your driver’s license.

Should I Accept a Plea Offering?

Although the decision is obviously yours to make, your DUI defense lawyer will be able to size-up your situation and advise you on the best course possible.

Some people make the mistake of accepting a plea deal even when they are completely innocent.

While you may avoid the harsh DUI penalties, admitting guilt to a lesser offense can still impact your life, particularly your housing and employment opportunities.

When deciding about whether to accept a plea offer, you need to understand the type of deal you’re considering. There are many types, including:

  • Pleading guilty to a lesser charge for lighter penalties
  • In instances of multiple charges, pleading to only one to avoid prosecution for the others, or
  • Arrangements that do not require you to lose your driver’s license, pay fees, or spend time in jail.

Again, there is a host of other types of plea deals, and your defense lawyer will negotiate on your behalf.

Do I Have to Take a Plea Deal?

While your defense lawyer will provide you the pros and cons of a plea deal, the decision of whether to accept it or not is entirely up to you.

A prosecutor, though, rarely – if ever – offers a plea deal in an attempt to be nice to you.

In many instances, prosecutors offer deals because they realize their evidence is so flimsy, they’ll likely lose in court. Other times, a plea deal may be offered in an attempt to lessen their workload.

Regardless of the reason for the plea offer, you and your defense attorney will need to analyze it to see if it’s really a bargain for you.

What Percentage of DUI Cases Are Dismissed?

Although it’s difficult to provide statistics from all states, some report DUI dismissal rates of 70 percent or more.

Remember, it’s up to the state to prove your guilt, which is much harder than you may think.

DUI charges can be dismissed for any number of reasons, including:

  • Police having no probable cause for pulling you over
  • Faulty or inaccurate results from breath tests
  • Inaccuracies with police officer statements
  • Testing of blood or urine being conducted improperly
  • Medical conditions that caused a false positive reading
  • No proof you were driving the vehicle, or
  • Police misconduct.

If your DUI defense attorney can prove any of the above, your case is likely to be dismissed altogether.

What Are My Chances of Winning a DUI Jury Trial?

While a courtroom can be an intimidating environment, your chances of winning a DUI jury trial are good – especially with the right DUI defense attorney.

DUI trial statistics can be difficult to come by but remember each DUI case is unique. By knowing all aspects of your situation, your defense lawyer will know the best strategy to follow in the courtroom.

Keep in mind that your defense lawyer will most likely have established relationships with the judge and prosecutor. Your lawyer will also probably know the courtroom habits of the police officer who charged you.

The Bottom Line

Being arrested for any criminal offense can be a scary experience. That’s why keeping your wits about you and leveraging the expertise and experience of a DUI defense attorney is the smart decision.

Your DUI defense attorney will have your best interests at heart and can provide you with time-tested advice on whether to accept a plea deal or proceed to court.