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No contest plea entered in former Miss USA's drunk driving case

When an experienced drunk driving defense attorney takes on a DUI case in South Carolina, there are many steps that he or she will take. One of the first things that a defense attorney may do is take steps to ensure that the accused driver's rights have not been violated by police or the prosecution.

A criminal defense attorney may also research whether the initial traffic stop, the arresting officer's report and results of a breath test were valid. Many who are charged with drunk driving are innocent, and many drivers also have their constitutional rights violated during a traffic stop and arrest. In these cases, charges can often be dismissed or reduced. In other cases, it is often possible for the criminal defense to attain an advantageous plea deal. Just this week, a former Miss USA accepted a plea deal in her DUI case.

Rima Fakih, who was named Miss USA in 2010, was arrested in December in Michigan after officers noticed that she was speeding and changing lanes without signaling. They reportedly found an uncorked champagne bottle in her car during the stop, and she failed a breath test. Earlier this week, she pleaded no contest to a charge of driving while visibly impaired, and in exchange a more serious charge of operating while intoxicated was dropped.

A misdemeanor open intoxicants charge and a civil infraction for careless driving were also dropped as part of the deal. A no contest plea is a way of saying that you will not contest the charges, but you also will not admit that you are guilty. In plea bargains, it is generally used when the defendant prefers not to say he or she is guilty, but will accept a sentence recommended for not contesting the charge.

Fakih, 26, will be sentenced next month, and it is expected that she will not receive any jail time but she may be put on probation.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Former Miss USA Rima Fakih pleads no contest in driving impairment case," Melanie D. Scott, April 12, 2012

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