Can I Get a Plea Bargain in My DUI Case in New Jersey?

gavel and paper with plea bargain written on it

Plea bargains are an important part of the United States legal system. They are agreements that can be made between prosecutors and defendants in criminal cases where the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge or to the original charge but with a recommendation for a lighter sentence. In New Jersey DUI charges are considered traffic violations, not criminal offenses, but as of recently, prosecutors may offer a plea bargain for defendants facing DUI-related charges. For more information on the new plea bargaining laws and for knowledgeable representation during your case, do not hesitate to contact a Bergen County, New Jersey DUI lawyer.

How Are Plea Bargains Beneficial?

Prosecutors can benefit from plea bargains particularly when they are burdened by a heavy caseload. Plea deals expedite the legal process, reduce caseloads, and provide defendants with more certainty about their future.

Defendants can avoid the expenses associated with going to trial and be given a potentially lesser sentence. It can also be beneficial for a person’s public image to avoid going to court.

Plea bargains can be seen as a compromise made between the prosecutor and defendant. The prosecution’s goal is to secure a conviction and the defendant’s goal is to minimize the penalties they are given. Plea bargains allow both parties to meet in the middle and find an appropriate compromise.

Can I Be Offered a Plea Bargain For DUI Charges?

New Jersey state law did not allow plea bargains for DUI charges until December of 2023 when a new bill was signed into law. Now under New Jersey’s DUI statute, “a plea agreement under this section is authorized under the appropriate factual basis consistent with any other violation of Title 39 of the Revised Statutes or offense under Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes…”

To summarize, prosecutors may recommend a plea bargain in a DUI case and a DUI refusal case. DUI refusals are charges incurred when a person refuses to take a breathalyzer test at the request of an officer during a traffic stop.

Plea bargains are negotiations between prosecutors and defendants. A prosecutor will examine the details of the case including the evidence they have, witness testimony, and more, and determine what an appropriate punishment would be. They then present their offer to the defendant in an attempt to avoid trial. A defendant can agree, negotiate for different terms, or reject the bargain altogether.

When Should I Accept?

The decision to take a plea bargain can be difficult. It can be overwhelming to decide whether to accept the benefits of the bargain or risk the chance of winning your case. Accepting means admitting guilt which could result in a criminal record, fines, jail time, and more. Additionally, a judge may not accept the terms of the plea bargain and award harsher sentences.

Work with a skilled lawyer when dealing with your DUI case. They will be able to offer sound advice and help navigate the legal process as well as help you decide whether or not to accept your plea.

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