So You’ve Been Offered an Impaired

If you’ve taken the time to find this article, chances are that either you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, but has just been offered a plea bargain that “reduces” the DUI charge to something called “Impaired Driving.” Aside from noticing that there is one less letter in the acronym for the charge, you’re probably wondering what the difference is between an Impaired Driving conviction and your run-of-the-mill DUI.

1) You’ve Been Charged

                It’s always important to understand that an Impaired Driving charge is still a criminal charge: don’t expect it to work miracles.  If you accept a plea deal for an Impaired Driving conviction, your license is probably going to stay suspended (assuming it has been suspended already), you will usually still be fined and/or put on probation, and more often than not, you’ll still have to undergo an evaluation by a state-licensed agency and complete the recommended treatment.  These are all pretty standard terms of sentencing for a DUI conviction, although in extreme cases, jail time and required installation of an “interlock” device are also possibilities.

2) The Advantages to ID

                So if an Impaired Driving charge can still result in many of the same sentencing conditions, you’re probably wondering what good it’ll do you to bargain for one.  Well, there are a number of advantages to having an Impaired Driving charge over the standard DUI, though how beneficial they are varies on a case by case basis.

  • Duration of Suspension: If you are familiar with the DLD’s policy on DUI charges, you’ll know that a DUI offense can get your license suspended for 36 months or more, depending on your age, the number of prior offenses, the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the ruling of the judge.  If your conviction is reduced to an Impaired Driving charge, however, your suspension period is also typically reduced, sometimes by as much as a month.  Depending on how long your license was originally suspended, this reduction might be enough to get you your license back before your court case is even resolved. 
  • Sentencing Terms: Because the Utah State Legislature gives judges a minimum and maximum when it comes to sentencing, being convicted of a DUI charge carries amandatory jail and fine (although these can be ‘suspended,’ or otherwise altered, if your attorney gets you a good plea bargain).  Unlike a DUI conviction, conviction of an Impaired Driving charge does not necessitate jail or a fine.  This doesn’t mean you’ll always get away without a couple days in jail and a fine, though – it just means the judge isn’t required by law to include those in your sentence. 
  • Criminal Record: It probably goes without saying that a DUI on your criminal record is not going to look good.  Many companies practice a no-tolerance policy towards DUIs, which means sometimes a conviction can result in the loss of your job right along with your license.  Impaired Driving, on the other hand, does not always raise red flags on background checks.  For one thing, not all corporations or national agencies associate an Impaired Driving conviction with a DUI at all; for another, it simply doesn’t carry the same stigma that a DUI charge does.  In short, an Impaired Driving charge is less likely to cause you more problems down the road where your criminal record is involved, and that’s pretty significant.

3) Negotiating for an ID

                You probably didn’t need to read this article to learn that your best chance of negotiating for an Impaired Driving conviction is by retaining an experienced defense attorney.  With so much riding on a DUI conviction, it makes sense to let the professionals negotiate for you.  For one thing, they’ll probably have experience with the court and even the prosecutor assigned to your case, which means they’ll be familiar with what will be expected in order to get the Impaired Driving instead of a DUI.  For another, they’ll be able to identify unfair terms that might go along with an Impaired Driving conviction – when you accept a prosecutor’s offer without an attorney’s advice, you might be accepting an excessive fine, drawn out treatment plans, or even jail time, all of which might be avoided with an attorneys help.

                So now you know the major differences between a DUI conviction and a conviction of Impaired Driving.  Consider your situation, consider the advantages, and above all, talk to your attorney about your prospects.  With the laws and rules for DUI charges changing so often, not every DUI case is eligible for the reduction – especially for repeat offenders – so it’s important to get up-to-date information from a defense attorney.

Posted by Haynes & Fuelling on May 25th, 2014

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