Driving under the influence of alcohol is not smart. After all, if you have consumed too much booze before climbing behind the wheel, you may not be able to safely drive your vehicle. Even worse, if you end up hurting someone or damaging property, prosecutors may charge you with both operating a vehicle while intoxicated and reckless endangerment.
Often, agreeing to plead guilty is an effective way to put your past behind you. Still, accepting a plea deal is not right in every situation. Before you do so, you should understand some of the drawbacks of pleading guilty to an OWI in Wisconsin.
1. You provide prosecutors with damaging information
When negotiating plea deals, prosecutors often want to learn as much as possible about the situation. They may ask you about your drinking habits, personal life and other private details. If you later decide not to plead guilty, prosecutors may use any information you disclose to them against you in open court. Further, even if you are innocent, prosecutors may convince you to accept responsibility for an OWI.
2. You have a rap sheet
Pleading guilty to an OWI may seem to be less stressful than having a trial. You should know, though, that a guilty plea is the same thing as a conviction by a jury of your peers. That is, if you plead guilty, you have a criminal history that may follow you for the rest of your life.
3. You cannot defend yourself
There are a variety of ways to defend yourself against an OWI charge. If you decide to accept a guilty plea, though, you lose the opportunity to present evidence at trial. You also cannot cross-examine the arresting officer and other witnesses.
Negotiating a guilty plea may be your best legal strategy. It could also be a big mistake. By understanding the consequences of pleading guilty to an OWI in Wisconsin, you can likely make well-informed decisions about your situation.