Can a DWI be Reduced to a Lesser Charge?

Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

Yes, in some instances a DWI can be reduced to a lesser charge. However, the chances of that happening are incredibly low if you attempt to do so without representation. The only way for the charges to be dropped entirely or reduced to a lesser charge is in the hands of the state prosecutor. In most cases, prosecutors want to punish those arrested for a DWI, and not only ensure they are convicted, but use that as an example to the public to deter others from driving while intoxicated, too.

Do not assume you can get your charges reduced. Even with an attorney, there are only specific instances where a DWI is reduced to a lesser charge – and not all cases fall into these unique circumstances.

How Can You Get DWI Charges Reduced?

Driving while under the influence is a very serious criminal offense. You must convince the prosecution that they do not have enough evidence to charge you with a DWI. Most drivers arrested for DWI will be charged with a DWI. However, your attorney may feel that your case has the potential for a reduced charge, which may mean no jail time or a less serious criminal offense on your permanent record.

Once the charges are filed against you, the only way to have those charges reduced is for the prosecutor to drop the DWI charges and refile for the lesser offense. It is in your best interest to have an attorney get involved immediately after your arrest. Doing so can make the process easier for negotiating a lesser criminal charge than the DWI itself. While it is hard to convince a prosecutor to drop the charges, there are ways to do so such as:

  • Proving there was no reasonable cause to stop your vehicle. If the officer who arrested you for a DWI had no suspicion or reasonable cause to stop your vehicle initially, then the arrest may be invalid. Your attorney would use that evidence to convince the prosecution that they do not have enough evidence to charge you with a DWI because, at the time of the stop, any tests that prove you were inebriated could not be used after an illegal stop.
  • Proving that the breathalyzer was miscalibrated or prone to errors. Another method would be questioning the breathalyzer itself. Sometimes, law enforcement agencies forget to calibrate their machines. When this occurs, they may have false positives or the machine may register a higher B AC than what was truly present. Your attorney may request the servicing records for the unit to see when it was last calibrated and whether there are any existing recalls or issues with that model.

What Are the Chances I Can Get My DWI Reduced to Reckless Driving?

The most common reduction is taking a DWI down to reckless driving. That means you would not have a DWI on your driving record, and you would most likely not have the license suspension that you would have had if convicted of a DWI. The odds of having your charges reduced depend on how quickly you have an attorney present. Your attorney may be able to negotiate before the prosecutor has officially filed charges against you for a DWI. This is a crucial time, because when the prosecutor has not officially charged you with a DWI, they may be more inclined to agree to a charge of reckless driving than after they have already filed charges for the DWI.

Therefore, contacting an attorney immediately after your arrest may increase the chances of a reduced charge.

Likewise, if this is your first offense and the evidence is not strong against you, your attorney may be able to get the charges dropped against you entirely or at least negotiate for a lesser charge.

Remember, Negotiations Mean Pleading Guilty

One thing to remember is that, if you negotiate with the prosecution for a lesser charge, the prosecutor will require that you plead guilty in court. Therefore, you cannot fight the charges in court later once you make that agreement with the prosecution. You will want to consider all options carefully before agreeing to plead guilty, even if it is not a DWI that you are pleading guilty to.

Never agree to a lesser charge without consulting a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can review the facts of your case and even examine the evidence to determine if the prosecutor has strong enough evidence to convict you of a DWI. Your attorney may find that the evidence is lacking and you may be able to avoid charges of any kind.

If you negotiate a lesser charge without an attorney, you risk pleading guilty to something that you may have been able to avoid.

What If I am Still Charged with a DWI?

You may be unable to get the charges reduced. However, that does not mean you will have to go to jail or that the DWI will affect you the rest of your life. Even if the prosecution charges you with a DWI, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain for a favorable sentence. Just keep in mind, the state does have mandatory sentences for a DWI. Your attorney may find it in your best interest to negotiate a plea bargain rather than risk a judge sentencing you by using their discretion.

Regardless, being charged with a DWI or a lesser sentence does not have to ruin your life. When you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney, you increase the likelihood of a more favorable outcome.

Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you or a loved one was recently arrested for a DWI in New Mexico, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. It is best to contact an attorney right after your arrest and before you speak to the police or prosecutor. To get started, schedule a free case evaluation with the defense team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices.

You can schedule your free case evaluation by calling our office or by requesting more information through our online contact form.