Why do famous people just plead guilty as charged to DUI?

If you’re into TMZ, and other gossip sites you undoubtedly will hear of some famous athlete or celebrity get arrested for a DUI.  In many cases it always seems like they just end up pleading guilty as charged to the DUI.  A recent example is Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian of all time.  Why is that?  Why would someone like Michael Phelps who seemingly has endless resources just decide to plead guilty as charged when if they wanted they could fight the DUI charge.

In my opinion as a DUI Attorney here in Seattle there are typically several reasons why these individuals decide to resolve their case that way.

First it is a PR move.  Think about it.  If you’re famous then any bad publicity or public mistake can damage your reputation.  I’m willing to be these famous people have publicists who say let’s just resolve this rather than drag it on for several years.  Take responsibility and move on.  The sooner it is over with the sooner the public will forget.

Secondly they don’t have the time to fight the case.  If you follow this blog at all then you may be familiar with how long it takes to resolve a DUI.  In Seattle for example if everything goes smoothly then a DUI can last anywhere from 4-6 months.  However if things end up going to trial that process can take up to 2 years.  Obviously with a trial there are many more court dates.  I just finished a DUI trial in Seattle a few weeks ago and I bet my client and myself showed up to Court at least 30 times.  If you’re a celebrity or a professional athlete you simply cannot do that if you’re on the road.

Lastly a DUI conviction may not have the negative impact for a celebrity or athlete.  What will a DUI conviction really do for a movie star.  It’s not like they will lose their license to act in movies or an athlete will lose their license to play football.  A DUI conviction simply does not affect them like it does for the rest of us.  Normal people need their license to drive too and from work or pick up their kids.  Normal people will lose their job with a criminal conviction.  Additionally normal people simply cannot afford the fines and penalties a DUI carries.

Now these are just my opinions.  Obviously everybody’s situation is different.  Whether you’re famous, or a regular guy every DUI case is different.

About the author:  Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle, WA.  He has been named one of the best Seattle DUI Attorneys by the Seattle Met Magazine.  He is also rated a perfect 10 out of 10 by Avvo.com, a lawyer rating service.