Also known as, the innovative legal strategy of "making poor choices."
Okay, so let's look at this closer. The first hearing for a misdemeanor charge is an Arraignment, where you will be asked to enter a plea. Often times we will be asked, sometimes too late, "Should I just plead guilty because I was drinking?"
The answer, each and every time, is NO! If you plead guilty, or even no-contest, to an OVI charge you give up all of your rights.
ALWAYS PLEAD NOT-GUILTY, even if you are making the mistake of representing yourself. Guilty pleas give up your right to put the state to their own test, to argue mitigation with the prosecutor, and send you down a dark hallway with the judge's sentence beyond the closed door.
A Not-Guilty Plea allows the court to schedule a pretrial, which is a meeting with the prosecutor. That will allow the opportunity to argue your case, from the police officer's conduct, to mitigating factors, and what the penalty will be. If you have an experienced OVI attorney representing you, it is highly likely that you will end up much better than you would with a blind guilty plea.
The police have rules to follow too. If you plead guilty, you give up any chance of evaluating whether the police did everything they were supposed to, the way they were supposed to, and when they were supposed to. Pleading guilty automatically lets the police off the hook, even if they botched something up completely.
You may be able to plead down the OVI, UNLESS you plead guilty. Even if the police were absolutely perfect, the prosecutor may still be willing to offer you a plea to a reduced charge. This often depends on factors such as your prior OVI history, whether you cooperated with the police, and the strength of their case. If you plead guilty, you lose the opportunity to pursue a plea to a reduced charge.
There is a range of penalties. For example, the jail time for a first-time OVI ranges from 3 days to 6 months, while the fine ranges from $375 to $1,075. If you go to the arraignment and plead guilty, you will have no idea at that time what the judge is going to sentence you too. You will have lost the opportunity to meet with the prosecutor and perhaps get a sense, if not agreement, as to what the penalty will be for whatever you are charged with.
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Updated July 2017
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