So you’ve been charged with a D.U.I. (O.V.I.) in Ohio, and you’re wondering if you should contest it or just plead guilty at the first court appearance (the arraignment). Pleading guilty at the arraignment would get it over with quickly, thereby saving time and money. On the other hand, a D.U.I. conviction will likely have a significant impact in the future.
If you plead guilty to a D.U.I., there will be court penalties for the D.U.I. conviction, and there will be secondary consequences. The court penalties include a mandatory jail sentence, a mandatory license suspension, a mandatory fine, probation, and the possibility of the following sanctions: yellow license plates, ignition interlock device, continuous alcohol monitoring, vehicle immobilization, and license reinstatement fees. D.U.I. sentences increase in severity for repeat offenses. In addition to the court penalties, a D.U.I. conviction has secondary consequences for issues such as auto insurance, life insurance, employment, education, military, professional licensing, immigration, and international travel.
You may be thinking that there’s no point in fighting the D.U.I. because the officer concluded you were under the influence or the machine concluded you were over the limit, so there is no chance of avoiding the DUI conviction. Not necessarily true. In many cases, you can beat the D.U.I. charge or at least have it amended to an offense that is not a D.U.I. If you plead guilty, there is a 100% chance you will be found guilty of D.U.I.. If you contest the charge, there is a good chance you will have a better outcome.
I’m not suggesting that every person charged with a D.U.I. should contest it. I’m suggesting that, before you decide what to do, you should weigh the pros and cons of pleading guilty vs. contesting the charge. The possibility of avoiding a D.U.I. conviction (as well as the penalties and the secondary consequences) may outweigh the time and money saved by pleading guilty at the arraignment. It’s wise to do a cost-benefit analysis and do what’s best for you.