According to recent news reports, Lamar Odom pleaded not guilty to a DUI that he was charged with at the end of August. Police reported that his SUV was traveling too slow, 50 mph, on the 101 freeway. Officers say Odom was driving his vehicle in a “serpentine manner.” Based on his driving pattern police believe that he was under the influence of drugs as well as alcohol.
Many people think they should plead guilty to DUI if their breath test shows their BAC (blood alcohol content) is over the legal limit. However, pleading guilty right off the bat can be one of the worst things to do when facing a DUI charge. If you plead guilty immediately, the judge can sentence you right away and you have no chance of reducing the charge or negotiating for an appropriate sentence.
Lamar Odom allegedly refused all chemical tests. Without a chemical test showing that he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol the state will have trouble proving that he violated the law. Even if there was a chemical test, it may be incorrect.
By pleading not guilty Odom has an opportunity to speak with a prosecutor about his case. A prosecutor has the power to reduce or dismiss his charge as well as make appropriate sentencing recommendations. If you plead guilty before speaking with a prosecutor you may miss out on a valuable opportunity to mitigate your consequences.
Some people also think that pleading not guilty when they are in fact guilty is dishonest and that the judge will think poorly of them if it looks like they are trying to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. Judges understand that pleading not guilty is often used as a legal maneuver to negotiate with the prosecutor. Salt Lake City judges are handling 40-80 cases each day. They don’t have the time or the memory to single you out and remember how you plead the first time you came in. Additionally, in courts having more than one judge, it is common for one judge to accept your initial plea and a different judge to handle your case after your initial plea.
There are very few instances where pleading guilty right away is the best option. These situations are very fact specific and you need to speak with an attorney to determine your best strategy. A good Salt Lake City DUI Attorney will consider all the evidence such as the Field Sobriety Tests to determine whether to challenge the reliability of a breath or blood test.