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Is it Ever Advisable to Plead Guilty to a DUI Charge And Hope For Mercy From The Court?

Interviewer: Do you ever encounter clients that want to give up on their case and feel like they’re guilty, and they want to plead guilty? What would you tell a client like that?

A DUI Conviction Has Long-Term Consequences

Phil Wormdahl: You know, rarely do I get clients who think that. They want to make sure that they’re at least getting something slightly better chances than what they would have had if they just go in and plead straight guilty. And it’s not necessarily that they want to get out of trouble, or think that they’re above the law. They’re thinking, “I don’t want to lose my job” or “I don’t want to get kicked out of my public housing,” I don’t want to lose my ability to get federal student loans.” People should be worried because there are consequences beyond just getting the punishment from the judge.

Being Arrested Is a Nerve-Wracking Experience; Some People May Experience a Sense of Hopelessness

So generally people don’t just want to give up. People often feel very emotional I guess, about being arrested. Whether it’s because they think they did something wrong or not, it’s a very scary thing to be pulled over at all. I’ve never been arrested for DUI, but I’ve been pulled over by the police numerous times. I’ve actually been asked to exit my car and perform a field sobriety test a handful of times.

I’ve blown into a handheld road side breath machine before, so I’ve gone through that part of the process. And frankly, that part of the process is scary enough and dehumanizing enough without thinking about having to go in and get booked into jail and be searched and handcuffed. The fact that it’s such a frightening, particularly strange experience can be just off-putting to people. It can scare them and make them feel like they just want to give up or they don’t want to fight.

DUIs Can Take a Significant Amount of Time to Resolve; This Alone, Can Lead a Person to “Give up,” Rather Than Defending the Charge

That being said, you know, like I said before most people who speak to me, they’re trying to make their situation better and they know that I can help them do that. And the last thing that I will add in terms of fatigue, or wanting to cash in your chips, is this: DUI cases, depending on the case, can take a long time to finish correctly. So I frequently advice people when they meet with me, that if you want this over as soon as possible, this isn’t the route to take necessarily.

If somebody just wants the case done as quickly as possible I can help them do that. But if they want the best outcome possible for them, they need to be prepared for the long-haul. To make sure that every stone gets turned over so there’s nothing left in their case to argue or to litigate about. Because the people who are willing to spend months and months, and to let me really turn their case inside-out, who are willing to go to court half a dozen or a dozen times if that’s what it takes to get a good outcome, those are the people that get the best outcomes every time.