The penalties for a DUI offense can have a great range in severity. You can help to control the outcome of your sentencing by preparing for your trial in specific ways. Here are some things to do in order to lighten your DUI penalties.
Pick a Great Lawyer
Having a great DUI attorney on your side helps a lot when you're trying to reduce your penalties. They help to focus your energy on the facts that are most central to your defense. When you're going up to testify on your own, you may have a biased account of the facts that represent what's most significant to you. Once a lawyer hears your story, they will help you to tease out the parts that are lacking and create the best defense possible.
Look at Your Criminal Record
A DUI sentencing can also depend on what your previous criminal record looks like. If this is your first offense, then you may get a sympathetic judge that gives you the benefit of the doubt and issues a light penalty. But if you've had other criminal charges, then you will need to work with your criminal lawyer to prove that it's not a pattern. You might need to sign up for some self-help classes such as Alcoholics Anonymous to show that you are working on the drinking issue already.
Decide Whether to Plea
Whether you should accept the DUI charges or not is something to discuss with your DUI attorney. Sometimes it's valuable to try and argue against the DUI charge completely if the evidence isn't strong. Other times, your best case for a light sentence is to plead guilty and negotiate for a lower sentencing. In a plea deal, you could argue for community service instead of a fine, or ask for an interlock device instead of a license suspension.
If you plan to speak on your behalf during the case, be sure to prepare well by practicing being questioned and writing down the key points of your defense so that you can be sure to hammer them home. Also be sure to put yourself in a good frame of mind before the case. If you go on the witness stand and are agitated or desperate, these negative emotions can come through and cause you to put forth a hostile vibe that will be off-putting to the judge who is trying to understand your side.