Should I Fight My DUI or Take a Plea Bargain?

gavel on book in courtroom

When people face driving under the influence (DUI) charges, their options generally come down to: 1) fighting the DUI charge, or 2) accepting a plea bargain. Is there a right or wrong way to go about a DUI case? Is one option (fight vs. plea bargain) better than the other? It all depends on the strength of the prosecution’s evidence against the defendant.

For example, let’s say there’s blood evidence showing that a DUI defendant had a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and body camera footage of the obviously intoxicated defendant stumbling drunk and slurring their words. In cases such as these, negotiating a plea deal may be in the defendant’s best interests.


In all states, California included, it’s against the law to drive with a BAC of .08% or above, regardless if the driver was actually showing signs of intoxication. For instance, a driver can have a high alcohol tolerance and be acting completely normal, but if their BAC comes back at .08% or more, they’ll be arrested for DUI on the spot.

So, when a driver’s BAC is high (e.g. at .12% or above), it’s a lot harder for a DUI attorney to win in court. Even if the lawyer can raise doubts about the BAC test results, especially when it involves a breath test as opposed to a blood test, it still may be insufficient to convince a jury of the driver’s innocence at trial.


When a DUI defendant’s BAC was closer to .08%, it’s much easier to contest. When a BAC is at .08% or just above, it’s easier for a defense lawyer to persuade a jury that the driver’s BAC result was within the margin of the test’s error. It’s easier to cast reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors.

Going further, the DUI attorney may be able to use the “rising BAC defense” by convincing the jury that the driver’s BAC was below the legal limit while driving, but rose by the time he or she was tested down at the station.

Should you fight your DUI charges or seek a plea bargain? It all depends on the facts of your case, the strength of the evidence against you, and whether there are any holes in the prosecution’s case. Our advice is to speak with our Board-Certified DUI defense specialist, Attorney Virginia L. Landry, before deciding what to do.

Related: What Details Can Impact a DUI Case?

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