If you or someone you love is the defendant in a DUI case, figuring out the best course of action can be intimidating. The good news is, you may have more options than you think. In this article, we will clarify some common terms involved in DUI cases and help you decide how best to handle your legal situation.
Driving under the influence, or DUI, is what it’s called when a person is driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. The consequences of a DUI depend in part on the state in which you’ve been charged.
Possible outcomes include a criminal record and loss of the defendant's driving privileges. A restricted license may be issued by the DMV, and the driver may be required to pay for and install an ignition interlock device on any and all vehicles they have access to. Since DUI is a criminal charge, a conviction may influence the defendant's future employment. Drivers convicted of a DUI may have to take DUI classes in order to regain driving privileges.
If you have been accused of driving under the influence, it is in your best interests to find a skilled DUI lawyer who may be able to get your DUI charge reduced to a lesser crime with less consequences. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your DUI lawyer may even be able to get the charge dropped.
Reckless driving is purposely or knowingly operating a motor vehicle in a way that endangers others. Reckless driving includes speeding over 25 miles per hour above the speed limit, weaving in and out of traffic, or passing in the opposite lane. However, in the context of a DUI, any driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is considered reckless driving. It doesn’t matter if any other driving laws were broken; according to the law, one has engaged in reckless driving solely by using drugs or alcohol and getting behind the wheel.
Advantages of a Wet Reckless vs DUI
Wet reckless is the name given to a DUI charge that has been reduced to a type of reckless driving charge. A person cannot be arrested for or charged with a wet reckless to begin with - a wet reckless always starts off as a DUI. When the case is presented in court, the DUI lawyer will make a plea bargain in order to get a wet reckless conviction instead. This is because there are several advantages to having a wet reckless as opposed to a DUI.
1. Less Fines
A wet reckless conviction has less fines than a DUI conviction. For example, in California, the fine for a wet reckless is less than half the fine for a DUI.
2. No Driver’s License Suspension Requirement
Unlike in a DUI conviction, the court is not required to suspend your driver's license in a wet reckless conviction. However, even if the court has decided not to suspend your driver’s license, it's important to be aware that in some states, failure to register for a hearing with the DMV within 10 days of the original DUI arrest will result in an automatic license suspension.
After a DUI conviction, ignition interlock devices are required in some states, but they are not required after a wet reckless conviction. Even if the DMV has suspended your driver's license, in the case of a wet reckless charge, it would still be possible to drive with such ignition interlock devices.
3. Shorter Probation Time
While a DUI conviction can mean serving probation for 3 to 5 years, a wet reckless charge involves probation for only 1 or 2 years.
4. Shorter DUI classes
DUI classes may be required in order for the individual to drive again after a conviction. However, the individual can take these classes for less time than they would have to for a DUI charge - typically 6 weeks or less.
5. Less or No Jail Time
Second- and third-time DUI convictions come with mandatory jail time in most states. However, wet reckless charges often have no mandatory jail time. For examples, in California, if the judge rules that jail time is necessary in a wet reckless conviction, the longest sentence the defendant can receive is 90 days. A DUI conviction, on the other hand, can mean jail time for up to a year or longer.
6. No DUI Charge on Your Record
A wet reckless conviction will be just that - a wet reckless - meaning no DUI charge on your record. This has far-reaching consequences for future employment and professional licensure since most employers require disclosure of a conviction and some professional licenses can be revoked upon receiving a DUI conviction.
Eligibility For a Wet Reckless Charge
Not all defendants are eligible to plea to a wet reckless charge vs DUI. Ideally, to be eligible for a wet reckless conviction, you must:
- Have no prior criminal record, including another DUI conviction
- Not have had a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of arrest
- Show remorse and respect at trial
Find an Experienced DUI Lawyer
If you or someone you love have been charged with DUI, it is essential to consider your options. Especially for a younger driver, a wet reckless conviction can have fewer far-reaching consequences than that of a DUI conviction over the span of your lifetime. Contact a Board Certified DUI lawyer near you today and schedule a consultation to see how they may be able to help with your case.