Attorneys representing clients charged with driving under the influence can be very effective at achieving low penalties for these individuals. A judge has the discretion to impose harsher penalties than the minimum, so you need skilled legal counsel to protect your freedom. That's especially important if this is not your first offense, if you caused an accident or if your blood alcohol level was much higher than the legal limit. One strategy a DUI lawyer uses involves mitigating factors.
Mitigating factors are details presented to a judge or a jury that could convince them to issue a lesser sentence. In some cases, mitigating factors can convince a prosecuting attorney to reduce or even drop charges.
Below are listed just a few examples of mitigating factors. Your DUI lawyer will know many others.
Beginning Alcohol Rehab
Many people receiving their first DUI charge don't have a serious problem with alcohol. Instead, they have made a mistake that they will never repeat. However, if there's evidence that you do have serious issues with alcohol, beginning therapy at a treatment center may encourage a judge to impose a lesser sentence than you might otherwise receive. Your action shows that you're taking significant steps to solve the problem.
Having a Previous Clean Record
Even if your blood alcohol was significantly elevated or if you caused an accident, a judge may be somewhat more lenient if this is your first DUI. You have an even better chance at a lower penalty if you haven't been in trouble with the law before and have not received tickets for moving violations within the past several years. Examples of moving violations include speeding and failure to stop at a stop sign or a red light.
Being Arrested While Not Driving
A police officer may arrest an intoxicated individual who is sitting behind the wheel on a public roadway and has the keys to the vehicle, even if the car is turned off. If this describes your situation, you may have been asleep or passed out in the car, or acting in a disoriented manner that drew the officer's attention.
A mitigating factor like this one could lead to the prosecuting attorney reducing or dropping the charges since you weren't actually driving. A judge might dismiss the case if the prosecutor chooses to pursue it.
Get Legal Help
Consult a DUI attorney and explain the circumstances of your case. Let the lawyer know any factors in your favor that could be used in court. You may be able to avoid the worst consequences, such as a jail sentence that the judge is allowed to impose but is not required to.