Meet with an attorney

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Ohio Criminal Rule 32.1 – Withdrawing a Plea in a DUI case

Withdrawing a Plea in a DUI case

How Does Withdrawing a Plea in a DUI work?

The vast majority of DUI/OVI cases in Ohio do not go to trial and are often handled instead through plea deals with the prosecutor. However, if you pled guilty to your DUI charge and are now thinking about withdrawing your guilty plea or a plea of “no contest,” it is important to understand Ohio law on withdrawing pleas. Ohio Criminal Rule 32.1 states, “A motion to withdraw a plea of guilty or no contest may be made only before sentence is imposed; but to correct manifest injustice the court after sentence may set aside the judgment of conviction and permit the defendant to withdraw his or her plea.” Criminal Rule 32.1 may allow you to withdraw your “Guilty” or “No Contest” plea from your DUI case, under certain circumstances. If your plea has not yet been accepted by the trial judge or you have not yet been sentenced for the DUI offense, you will most likely be able to easily withdraw your plea. Unfortunately, if you have already been sentenced for the DUI offense, withdrawing your plea will be much more difficult.

However, the ability to withdraw your plea is not a right, and the trial judge has the discretion whether or not to grant your motion and allow you to withdraw the plea, after a hearing on your motion. Because you do not have an absolute right to withdraw your plea, the hearing on your motion is mandatory to “determine whether there is a reasonable and legitimate basis for the withdrawal of the plea.” State v. Xie, 62 Ohio.St.3d 521, 527 (Ohio 1992). It is important that you speak to an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible if you are considering withdrawing your plea because time is very important and any undue delay will weigh negatively against your case.

If the judge allows you to withdraw your guilty plea, your case will usually return to its status before the original plea, likely meaning that you will go to trial or attempt to negotiate another plea deal with the prosecution. In some cases, such as when exonerating evidence was discovered, your DUI charges may be dismissed by the judge. However, you should be aware that withdrawing your plea will not prevent you from potentially receiving an even harsher sentence if you are convicted of the DUI offense or if the prosecution refuses to offer you a lighter plea deal.

If the judge denies your motion to withdraw your guilty plea, you may appeal the decision by claiming that the trial judge abused their discretion in denying your motion. However, an appellate court will consider several factors, established in the case of Blakemore v. Blakemore, 5 Ohio St.3d 217 (1983). These “Blakemore” factors include: (1) Would the prosecution be prejudiced if you are allowed to withdraw your plea? (2) Were you represented by very competent defense counsel? (3) What was the extent of the plea hearing when the judge first accepted your plea? (4) Did the trial judge hold a full hearing on your Criminal Rule 32.1 Motion to withdraw your guilty plea? (5) Did the trial judge give “full and fair consideration” to your motion to withdraw your plea? (6) Did you file the motion to withdraw plea within a reasonable time of entering the plea? (7) Did your motion to withdraw plea include specific reasons that justified withdrawing your plea? (8) Did you understand the nature of your DUI charges and the possible penalties or consequences? and (9) Is there a chance that you may be innocent or have a reasonable defense to the DUI offense(s) you were charged with?

When Can I Withdraw My Plea?

You can withdraw your guilty plea at any time if the judge has not yet accepted it. Furthermore, even if the plea has been accepted but sentencing has not yet occurred, you may be able to withdraw your plea, especially if the judge in your case rejects the plea agreement you negotiated with the prosecution in exchange for your guilty plea, or even if the prosecution decides to back out of its plea deal offer. For instance, if the judge indicates after accepting your guilty plea that he wants to sentence you to a longer sentence than called for in your plea deal, you will probably be able to withdraw your guilty plea.

While there is no set time limitations for filing your motion to withdraw your plea under Criminal Rule 32.1, an undue delay in attempting to withdraw your plea is a factor that the trial judge will consider and which adversely affect your chances of the judge granting your motion and allowing you to withdraw your plea.

If you have already been sentenced in your DUI case and you are wanting to withdraw your guilty plea, it will be much harder to do so than before your sentencing. To withdraw your guilty plea after you have been sentenced, Ohio Criminal Rule 32.1 only allows a judge to do so if it is to “correct manifest injustice.”

Common reasons for a judge allowing a defendant to withdraw a “guilty” or “no contest” plea include: (1) if the defendant did not plead guilty “intelligently” because of mental challenges or intoxication; (2) if the defendant’s attorney did not properly inform him or her about important consequences of the plea, such as mandatory deportation in the case of an immigrant; (3) if the defendant’s attorney entered the plea without the defendant’s consent; (4) if the defendant may actually have a reasonable chance to win at trial; (5) if the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated, such as if the defendant received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel; (6) if the defendant was improperly coerced or threatened outside of the scope of the plea deal negotiations; (7) if the judge improperly interfered in the plea deal negotiation process; or (8) if new evidence is found that may exonerate the defendant such as DNA evidence or video footage.

Is There a Difference in DUI cases vs Other Cases?

Withdrawing your plea in a DUI case is largely the same as withdrawing your plea in any other case, with the strongest factor for a successful withdrawal being any newly discovered exculpatory evidence that proves your innocence of the DUI offense, such as blood test results that have just been turned over showing that your blood alcohol concentration was well below the legal limit at the time of your arrest.

Importantly, you should always consult an experienced DUI defense attorney if you pled “guilty” or “no contest” to DUI offense and now wish to withdraw your plea. An experienced attorney can help explain to you the relevant Ohio law on DUI offenses and withdrawing pleas, as well as the potential outcomes and consequences of withdrawing your plea. The attorney can help you understand the various reasons that a court may allow you to withdraw your plea as well your potential chances for success with any such reasons. Finally, an experienced DUI defense attorney will be able to help you with the correct way to go about withdrawing your plea by filing a motion to withdraw the plea under Ohio Criminal Rule 32.1 within the trial court if you have not yet been sentenced, or potentially by seeking appellate review by an Ohio appeals court.