DWI and Plea Bargaining

June 21, 2024


Plea bargaining is a well-established part of many DWI cases in New York. Whenever a driver is arrested for and charged with driving while intoxicated, it is common for prosecutors and the defendant’s lawyer to negotiate a plea deal. These plea deals usually require the driver to admit guilt on some lesser charge or plead guilty to a violation instead of a criminal charge. In exchange, prosecutors can agree to lesser penalties, such as no jail time, limited probation, or decreased period of driver’s license suspension.

In New York, prosecutors are constrained by strict plea bargaining guidelines that they have to adhere to.  Some have recently criticized these guidelines, saying they lead to unnecessary and, in some cases, unfair resolution of DWI cases. These same critics also point out that strict plea guidelines could unfairly disadvantage the accused when prosecutors threaten prosecution if a plea deal is not struck, even when prosecution would likely lead to a not guilty verdict.

Plea bargaining requires a lot of knowledge and experience to be handled effectively. The prosecutors and the driver’s attorney have two opposite goals. Prosecutors want driver to plead guilty to some charge or violation so they can be sentenced quickly, while the driver’s attorney is trying to avoid penalties for their client. Because of this inherently tense process, it can be difficult for a driver to move on from their DWI charge without the help of a skilled attorney. 

That said, plea bargaining can also be a useful tool for attorneys who are defending drivers. Experienced attorneys can spot issues that would make prosecution difficult. A practiced DWI lawyer is more likely to take notice of police misconduct, breath test result errors, and other serious problems. The lawyer can then use that information when striking a deal with prosecutors.  For example, if a driver was arrested for DWI and submitted to a breathalyzer test, a common tool used to determine a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level.  Breathalyzers commonly deliver inaccurate results due to mishandling. Additionally, these breath tests cannot take into account other factors that would affect a driver’s BAC level. Because of this, a breath test could show that a driver was “intoxicated” based on their BAC, when the driver was not actually intoxicated. These problems are common, and a good DWI lawyer should be able to recognize these problems to avoid a conviction based on inaccurate breathalyzer results. That same lawyer can approach the prosecution about such an error and potentially use that information to help their client.

Every DWI case is different, and every defendant driver faces different circumstances. In some cases, plea bargaining can be very beneficial to the driver. In other cases, plea bargaining could still lead to a conviction record and penalties. If you are facing a DWI, contact the experienced New York DWI attorneys at Nave DWI Defense Attorneys. Our staff includes former prosecutors and judges who have handled DWI cases from every angle and have successfully negotiated dispositions in 1000s of DWI cases.  We will help you determine what the best course of action in your case is, and will fight aggressively to protect your rights. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

DISCLAIMER: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem.  Corporate offices for Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 432 N. Franklin Street, Suite 80, Syracuse, NY 13204; Telephone No.: 1-866-792-7800.  Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.  Attorney Advertising.


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