Under Idaho law, it is an offense to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You’ll catch a DUI charge for doing so. Whether the defendant is a first-time offender or a repeat offender, they will face punishment. This is why it is essential to work with a DUI lawyer.
A lawyer knows how the law treats different classes of offenders and when you should take a plea deal, plead no contest, or plead not guilty. In addition, an attorney knows whether you should plead guilty or not guilty to a first DUI charge. We discuss this and more in this article.
How the DUI Criminal Process Works
Driving under the influence is a menace on Idaho roads, with drunk drivers prone to causing traffic accidents. For this reason, law enforcement officers are always on the lookout for impaired drivers. This is the reason for DUI checkpoints and field sobriety tests drivers undertake when pulled over by an officer.
When a police officer pulls you over and confirms you’re impaired, they’ll take you into custody on a charge of driving under the influence. The next step is to inform you of your first court date. At the hearing, the court may ask if you have an attorney or want a court-appointed lawyer.
If you are not represented by a lawyer, the court will adjourn the hearing until you have one to enter your plea. But if you have a DUI attorney, the court will ask you to enter a plea. This is a crucial point, as what you say will determine the outcome of your case.
A guilty plea means the immediate resolution of your case, and you’ll instantly have it on your record. A non-guilty plea means the case would proceed to trial, where your lawyer will enter your defense. At this point, it’s either you win and have the charges dismissed, or you lose and have a conviction on your record. In addition, you would have spent money paying attorney fees, filing court processes, and coming to court.
Should a First Offender Plead Guilty to a DUI Charge?
Having established how the DUI criminal process works and seeing that a case going to trial could go either way, should you plead guilty to a DUI as a first offender? Our answer to this question is no. Generally, you should never take a guilty plea in DUI cases.
Your record is still clean as a first offender, and the focus is leaving it that way. You will receive a sentence once you take a guilty plea, and your clean record vanishes forever. So, just because the police arrested you and seemed to have convincing evidence doesn’t mean you should accept you’re guilty.
Defenses to a DUI Charge
As we’ve seen in several DUI cases we’ve handled, several technicalities could nullify the charge against you or serve as an effective defense. Below are some technicalities that determine your chances of winning your case or having the DUI charge dismissed.
Improperly Conducting a Traffic Stop
As much as the law aims to protect all road users from drunk drivers, a law enforcement officer carrying out a traffic stop must follow due process. For example, the officer must have probable cause before pulling you over for a DUI check. If the stop was not conducted properly, the prosecution might have no choice but to drop the DUI charge.
Not Reading the Defendant Their Rights
If the arresting officer fails to read you your rights, then anything you said or did at the point of arrest will not be admissible. This is because the law sees evidence collected in such a situation as objectionable, so the prosecution can’t use it to get a conviction.
The Manner of Conducting the Sobriety Test
A field sobriety test is never an accurate indicator of impairments, and several factors affect the result. These factors include:
- Poor lighting
- Bad weather condition
- Uneven surfaces
- Poor footwear
- Officer-induced intimidation
Where any of the above is present, how the field sobriety test was conducted comes into question. So, if uneven floors, for instance, caused you to trip during the examination, such evidence is not enough to convict you.
Contact DUI Attorneys Immediately!
A DUI case is easier to win when defendants involve a lawyer immediately after their arrest. So, as a first-time offender, waste no time contacting our DUI lawyers at Trilogy Law Group. Our attorneys have the experience and legal knowledge to get you off the charge and leave your record clean. So contact us today to schedule a free case review.