The Pros and Cons of the Wet Reckless
One of the first things your DUI defense lawyer will try to do is get a DUI charge reduced. One of the most common plea bargains is called “wet reckless.” This is still a misdemeanor. It allows you to admit that your reckless driving did occur as a result of alcohol consumption. Of course “Wet reckless” does look better on a criminal or driving record compared to a DUI conviction, there are still pros and cons to accepting this plea bargain.
Let’s start with the cons first.
Insurance Increase or Termination
Most insurance companies look at a wet reckless conviction the same as a DUI conviction. Thus, you rates can increase with this conviction on your record. Some car insurance companies may even terminate your insurance altogether.
Wet Reckless Counts Against You
This is a huge disadvantage to accepting a wet reckless plea. Essentially, this conviction can be used against you as a prior DUI conviction. For instance, if you are charged with another DUI within 10 years of your wet reckless plea, it could constitute your second offense. Let’s say you were arrested and charged with DUI in 2012. You plead to the reduce charge of wet reckless. In 2014, you’re arrested and charged with DUI. It’s possible you’d be charged with a second DUI offense. This means stiffer penalties, if convicted even though the first was a wet reckless conviction.
Possible DMV Suspension
You would think a plea of wet reckless would help you avoid losing your license. It doesn’t. If your license is suspended because of a DUI charge, the decision won’t be reverse during an administrative hearing.
There some pros to accepting a wet reckless plea. Here are some of them.
Paying Out Less Money (Fines)
Compared to a DUI charge, which could require thousands in fines, a wet reckless fine is less. In fact, a wet reckless fine usually costs you half of a DUI conviction fine.
Shorter Probation Time
A DUI conviction usually requires a three to five year probation period. The good thing about a wet reckless conviction is that you may be on probation for about two years.
Less Time in Alcohol School
When you’re convicted of a DUI offense, the court usually makes you attend an alcohol program. Although the program is usually 90 days, it works out to about 24 hours you spend in class. With a wet reckless conviction you’ll probably spend about 12 hours in class. The court may decide not to require you to go to school at all.
Less Jail Time
When you are found guilty or plead guilty, the judge can give you 180 days of jail time. Keep in mind that this is a first-time DUI conviction. If you have a wet reckless conviction the judge may impose a 90 day jail sentence.
No Restrictions on Your Driver’s License
With a DUI conviction, you risk losing your driver’s license for 90 days. However, with a wet reckless conviction, you’re not at risk of losing your license or having any license restrictions.
No Sentence Enhancements Risks
If you are convicted of a second or third DUI offense within 10 years, you’re facing a lot of trouble. The judge could impose a mandatory sentencing enhancement which includes license suspension and/ or jail time. If you plead to a second or third wet reckless offense, you don’t face those same sentencing enhancement requirements.
As you can see there are a lot of advantages and disadvantages to accepting a wet reckless plea bargain. Many people facing a DUI conviction choose this option. However, some people decide to try their luck in court. Every person’s case is different and have different circumstances.
Whatever you decide, weigh both sides. Also, it’s important to remember that’s it’s not about the number of pros or cons, but the impact they may have on your future. For instance, the list doesn’t include a lot of cons. However, that doesn’t mean those cons won’t impact your life more than the pros would. Always talk to your DUI defense lawyer before accepting or declining any wet reckless plea.