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Beat the DUI: How to Get Charge Reduced to Reckless Driving?

Getting a DUI charge reduced to reckless driving can be challenging and depends on several factors, including the specifics of your case, your legal representation, and the laws in your jurisdiction. It’s important to note that every case is unique, and the outcome depends on the specific circumstances.
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The Steps of a DUI Criminal Case

The Arrest Process
A DUI charge can stem from various circumstances, but one common scenario is when a driver is stopped at a DUI checkpoint. Another way is when a driver is pulled over by a specially trained “DUI Officer” who suspects the driver may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The officer at a DUI checkpoint or the one who pulls over a driver suspected of drunk driving typically follows these steps:

  1. Ask the driver initial questions.
  2. Try to detect the smell of alcohol or drugs, especially marijuana.
  3. Conduct a field sobriety test if initial observations suggest impaired driving.
  4. Administer a breathalyzer test to determine the driver’s blood-alcohol content (BAC).

Implied Consent Law
Federal law mandates that all individuals with driver’s licenses must comply with alcohol chemical testing (e.g., breathalyzer or blood testing) when directed by a law enforcement officer. Refusal to submit to chemical testing can result in a minimum one-year driver’s license suspension. Law enforcement officers are also authorized to forcibly take a driver’s blood sample to determine BAC and detect any drugs under the Implied Consent Law.

Booking into Jail and Bail
After an arrest for alleged impaired driving and submission to chemical testing, the driver is taken to jail and booked. The driver is entitled to one phone call, often made to a DUI Defense Attorney or someone who can post bail. A driver can be released on bail once their BAC is below 0.05.

When Can You Get DUI Charges Reduced?

According to a Forbes publication, getting a DUI charge reduced to reckless driving, often referred to as a “wet reckless,” can be possible through a plea agreement [1]. This involves pleading guilty to a less serious charge, avoiding a trial, and the risk of a conviction for the original offense.

Several factors, such as having no prior DUI convictions, a BAC near the legal limit, no injuries or collisions, and potential issues with the evidence, can increase the likelihood of a successful reduction.

A drunk driving attorney can help you to try to successfully argue for a reduced charge to avoid a drunk driving conviction on your record – Forbes.

What is a Wet Reckless Driving Charge?

Wet reckless is an informal term used to describe a plea bargain in which a person charged with DUI agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

The charge is called “wet” because reckless charges do not include driving under the influence (DUI). The details vary greatly by state for wet reckless charges, with some states like New York specifically forbidding the practice while others allow it through statute like California.

Individuals may seek wet reckless charges because they typically carry lighter penalties compared to DUI charges. This can include shorter jail sentences, lower fines, and the possibility of avoiding license suspension.

However, prosecutors are more likely to offer wet reckless plea bargains in cases where there is little evidence of impairment or low blood alcohol content. This has led to criticism that wet reckless charges may incentivize innocent individuals to accept the plea bargain to avoid the potentially harsher penalties associated with a DUI conviction.

Also Read: Can You Be Charged With DUI Without Evidence?

The Benefits of Getting a DUI Reduced to Reckless Driving

  • A DUI conviction remains on your driving record for 75 years as mandated by law. However, a Reckless Driving conviction does not carry the same stigma associated with a DUI conviction.
  • Insurance companies typically view a Reckless Driving conviction less critically than a DUI conviction, potentially saving you thousands of dollars in increased insurance premiums. This could also prevent your insurance policy from being canceled or you being labeled a high-risk driver.
  • Opting for a reduction of your DUI to Reckless Driving often results in a lower fine than the minimum mandatory fine for a DUI conviction.
  • In cases where your job involves driving, a DUI conviction could lead to termination. However, if the DUI charge is reduced to Reckless Driving, your employer may be more sympathetic and take a more favorable view of your situation.
  • A DUI conviction on your record might jeopardize future job applications, as potential employers could view you as a liability risk. Even though a DUI is not a felony nor a crime involving untruthfulness, it may still affect your employment prospects.
  • If your current DUI case is reduced to Reckless Driving and you are later arrested for another DUI offense, you would still be considered a first-time DUI offender, assuming you have no other DUI convictions.

California DUI Statistics

  • 71.1% of individuals arrested for DUI in 2018 were convicted of DUI offenses.
  • Among those convicted, 6.0% were convicted of driving under the influence of drugs (DUID), a slight increase from previous years.
  • Of the convicted DUI offenders, 72.5% were first-time offenders and 27.5% were repeat offenders, a proportion that has decreased since 1989.
  • The median blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of convicted DUI offenders was 0.16% in 2018, double the legal limit of 0.08% in California.
  • In 2018, 18.9% of DUI arrest cases did not result in a corresponding conviction on Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) records.
  • Among first-time DUI offenders arrested in 2018, 67.8% were sentenced to jail, compared to 95.9% of all repeat offenders.

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