Plea deals in drunk driving cases may sound like a good “deal,” but they can actually have more severe consequences. Dean Contover and Board Certified DUI attorney Mike Bowser discuss plea deals in drunk driving cases in this video.
Plea Deals – Are They Worth It?
Dean: I know somebody that years ago, before this change in the law, just pleaded out the two cases and what happens in that case, see, he just pleaded he was young, he didn’t have money for an attorney, he just pleaded. Now, it has consequences.
Mike: I had that case in Springfield yesterday. I was trying an OUI third offense in the Springfield District Court. The gentleman had one, was 18 years old . . ..
Dean: Oh wow.
Mike: Barely over the .02 to limit. He just plead it out for the sake of convenience and then fast forward another 12 years or so, he had a second and he resolved that by pleading it out and then you fast forward another 10 years and he finds himself in Massachusetts. He gets stopped and arrested with an OUI, and under Melanie’s Law, that was a third offense. It was a felony if convicted, and it carries a mandatory jail sentence of 180 days, 150 of which have to be served behind the wall in the House of Correction. These cases under Melanie’s Law, these prior offenses, even the ones that occurred well before the change in the law, they never go away. It’s a lifetime look back. Every OUI disposition on your record from any jurisdiction counts forever.
Dean: What happened to double jeopardy? That doesn’t count here?
Mike: That was litigated. They said I believe the term is, ex post facto. You can’t impose upon someone today with a change in the law, you know, penalties based on what happened 20 or 30 years ago. But they’ve said “No, they can’t do that.” That change in the law was allowed and it did pull into effect old cases. Cases that you might have resolved 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago.
Dean: And you didn’t know any better, and you were younger, and you just plead them out.
Dean: So you have to fight for a lot of these people.
Mike: Because of that situation.
Dean: In other words, don’t plead.
Mike: I’m not a plea escort service, as I say. Most of my practice is subsequent offenses; second, third, fourth, offenses. In almost every one of those cases is going to be a trial, because if you plead out, you’re going to jail. The consequences are horrible and when I meet a first offender, I tell them the same thing. “Listen, a first offense can be inconvenient, but a second offense can be life-altering or a third offense.” So I am a strong proponent of not pleading out cases and I would much rather see people go to trial, let the chips fall where they may. I don’t win every case. I win, certainly, a lot more than I lose. I lose my fair share of cases, but I would much rather see people take cases to verdict, take them to trial, and then deal with the consequences after that.