Most states have laws that prohibit prosecutors from reducing DUI charges for suspected drunk drivers. Under California law, however, a plea bargain can be negotiated for impaired drivers to reduce DUI penalties in exchange for a guilty plea, or to reduce charges from a DUI/DWI to wet reckless, even though there is technically no actual law on the books that defines what a “wet reckless” charge would be. If you have been charged with a DUI, DWAI or OWI in Colorado, Florida, Texas or Wisconsin, you may also be able to have the charge for driving impaired under the influence of drugs or alcohol reduced to wet reckless. In Washington State, DUI charges can be pleaded down to “Wet Negligent Driving” (Negligent Driving in the 1st Degree), which is a misdemeanor in that state.
A person suspected of driving under the influence may take advantage of a wet reckless charge when his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) is close to 0.08%. Prosecutors in states where plea bargains are permitted can also pursue a lesser charge of wet reckless if they have a weak case that can be lost at trial. If someone pleads guilty to a wet reckless charge, they are pleading guilty to a charge of driving recklessly where a prosecutor may have stated for the record that alcohol or drugs were involved with the charge. Other advantages of pleading guilty to a wet reckless:
– Unlike a second and third DUI where progressive penalties become harsher, there are usually no mandatory sentencing enhancements for a wet reckless charge.
– There is also a shorter jail term associated with a wet reckless charge as compared to a charge of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
– With a wet reckless charge, in most cases there is no automatic suspension of your license, although the DMV may still do so. Normally, in order for a person who is offered a wet reckless plea bargan to keep their license, they must win their DMV hearing.
– Generally, the probation period for a first time DUI is anywhere from three to five years. The probation period for a wet reckless is generally one to two years.
– Although the fines for a wet reckless charge are less than the fines associated with a DUI charge, the increased insurance rates and/or policy cancellations caused by either will be the same, as insurance companies treat DUI charges and wet reckless charges equally.
The consequences of a crash caused by an impaired driver are also the same, whether he or she is charged with a DUI or with wet reckless driving. The latest statistics available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report that in 2016, there were 10,497 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol concentration, content or levels of .08 or higher.