You might have heard that first-time DWI offenders get off easy and are contemplating pleading guilty to the drunk driving charges to put your case to rest. However, it is a decision that may come back to haunt you.
First, it is crucial to understand that the circumstances of your offense matter. Depending on the prevailing factors, you may be in for serious legal consequences, even if it is your first DWI offense. Here are other reasons why a guilty plea is not always the best way out, even for a first offender.
You may have defenses available
Just because you have been charged with a DWI does not necessarily mean you are guilty or the prosecution can prove it. Some possible defenses to your DWI charge, including faulty breathalyzer tests, illegal traffic stops or police misconduct, can help your case.
A DWI conviction can have serious consequences
Pleading guilty means admitting that you broke the law. Such an admission comes with legal penalties, such as fines, probation, community service and even jail time. It can also result in a criminal record which may affect your employment, housing and other areas of your life.
You lose some of your rights
When you admit guilt, you automatically waive some of your constitutional rights that can significantly affect the direction of your DWI case. Some rights you give up when you plead guilty include the right to a jury trial and the right against self-incrimination.
You may have a better chance at trial
No criminal case is infallible, and you may get a desirable verdict for your DWI charge if you have proper legal representation. Pleading guilty forfeits the chance to defend yourself.
The bottom line is that you should not rush to plead guilty. Doing so denies you a fighting chance and sets you up for more severe penalties if you are ever charged with a similar offense.