Following a DUI arrest, the primary goal of our DUI defense attorneys is to find ways to challenge the charge outright, in hopes of a dismissal or not guilty verdict. However, when the chances of that are slim, we may adjust our strategy to negotiate with prosecutors to amend the charge from DUI to the less serious offense of reckless driving.
This is precisely what golf pro Tiger Woods did after his Florida DUI arrest in Palm Beach County earlier this year. Authorities arrested him after he was found passed out at the wheel of his vehicle. He was accused of intoxication with prescription drugs and marijuana. There was no alcohol in his system. He would later release a statement saying he was attempting to self-medical to relieve pain from a previous back surgery and insomnia.
Some of the benefits of pleading DUI down to a reckless driving charge:
- A first-time conviction for reckless driving is punishable by a maximum 90 days in jail; A first-time DUI conviction carries a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail (assuming no one was injured or killed).
- Reckless driving does not carry the same stigma as DUI, which could jeopardize applications for future employment;
- Your auto insurance company probably won’t raise your rates as high for a reckless driving conviction as they would a DUI (which could save thousands of dollars a year);
- Reckless driving typically results in a lower fine than the minimum mandatory for DUI (minimum $500 up to $1,000 for a first-time DUI conviction, compared to a minimum $25 and maximum $500 for a first-time reckless driving offense);
- A DUI conviction can result in termination from your job (if you are required to drive in the course of your employment), while employers may be more sympathetic to a reckless driving charge;
- If you are convicted of reckless driving and are later arrested and convicted of DUI, you would be deemed a first-time DUI offender (assuming you had no other prior DUI convictions).
It should be pointed out: It’s not the judge who has the discretion to reduce your DUI charge to a reckless driving one. The only person who has the authority to amend your charge is the prosecutor. Often the only person with the ability or inclination to convince them to do so is your Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorney. What that means for you is it’s imperative that you have an attorney who knows how to effectively negotiate with the prosecutor.
In Woods’ case, the judge sentenced him to one year on probation and a $250 fine (again, less than the $500 minimum mandatory for DUI). he will also be required to attend and complete DUI school, perform 20 hours of community service and attend a workshop hosted by victims of impaired drivers. The judge did not sentence him to any jail time, but indicated if he violated his probation, he would be sent to jail for 90 days and his fine would be increased to $500.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Tiger Woods pleads guilty to reckless driving in Florida court, avoids DUI conviction, Oct. 27, 2017, By Tom Doyle, UK Standard
More Blog Entries:
Florida DUI Plea Deal Crumbles After Defendant Late to Court, Oct. 5, 2017, Fort Lauderdale DUI Defense Attorney Blog