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If you were arrested for a DUI does it help or hurt your case to attend AA and DUI classes before you go to court?

Palo Alto, CA |

I was arrested with my first DUI this week. I would like to plead guilty because my breath test said I was .11 and thus I believe I am guilty and deserve any punishment that would be brought upon me due to this, however I am told it is foolish to plead guilty.

I am wondering if I plan to please not guilty if I should start to attend AA and DUI classes now versus waiting for being ordered to do so.

I am not sure how I would fit in at AA because I rarely drink (probably 4-5 times per year) but when I do I often have 2-5 drinks, so this is clearly a drinking problem and I am able to admit I have a problem. I've decided to stop drinking entirely and am wondering if attendance at AA would help show the judge this is the case.

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Attorney answers 4


Its always a good idea to do something like that. You should definitely get an attorney to help you out with this.

Feel free to contact my office with any questions

Elliot Zarabi

Legal disclaimer: This is just my opinion and not a comprehensive answer. You assume the risk because this answer may not apply to your situation depending on the facts.


Attending AA classes could be beneficial when negotiating a plea agreement. It is possible to get DUI charges dismissed or reduced to lesser charges, even with BAC levels much higher than yours. I would not advise going in and blindly entering a guilty plea without having an experienced DUI attorney handling your case, and defending you. There are a lot of potential defenses and weaknesses in the prosecutor's case that could be exposed to your advantage.


You're going to have to complete the DUI program to get your license reinstated by the DMV, so starting that couldn't hurt. As far as AA meetings - if you're just going to walk in and plead guilty, any AA meetings won't change a thing. You'll get sentenced on a DUI.

On the other hand, if you're looking to see about getting this reduced, then AA meetings may assist your attorney in negotiating on your behalf. The DA won't listen to you, but depending on the facts of your case, your attorney may make some headway with them.


It never hurts to attend AA or NA meetings when you have a pending charge for several reasons. First, if you decide to take a plea, it shows the prosecutor and the judge that you are aware of a potential problem and have already taken steps toward rehabilitation. Judges and prosecutors usually help those who help themselves first. Your chances of a better deal are greater if you can prove you've been attending AA. Second, you may actually learn something at these meetings. If anything, it will show you if you really have a drinking problem. There are several different types of AA meetings, you are sure to learn something. Third, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by attending. The meetings are free, anonymous, and located everywhere at just about any given hour of the day. Whatever you say in these meetings is inadmissible in court.

Just be sure to have the meeting moderator initial on a log sheet (can be a piece of notebook paper) that you attended the meeting. If you decide to take a plea, or if you take it to trial and get convicted, you've got some good mitigating evidence in sentencing. If you get an acquittal, then all you've lost is a little bit of time, and hopefully, you've gained some insight about alcoholism.

Hope this helps.



I've heard that attending AA meetings is admitting to the judge that you have a drinking problem. My only problem is that I drank 3 glasses of wine and did not realize that 3 hours wasn't long enough to wait to be sober enough to drive. I understand that now, and have also given up drinking entirely and have decided to live a sober life. Is the only way to prove this to the judge to attend AA meetings?

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