If you’ve been charged with DUI, you could be facing severe penalties that can turn your life upside down.
You might be wondering if there’s any way out. With an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side, you can often try to get your charges dropped or reduced. One such solution is to plea bargain to a wet reckless charge.
According to Nolo, a wet reckless charge means that a driver pleads to reckless driving with alcohol involved. The benefit is that a charge of wet reckless typically carries fewer obligations, punishments, and costs than a traditional DUI. Essentially, a wet reckless charge is a DUI charge that is reduced to a reckless driving charge.
The term wet reckless refers to a plea bargain where a DUI is reduced to a reckless driving charge. However, DrivingLaws warns that the state of New York severely limits plea bargaining in DUI cases. While pleading to a wet reckless isn’t an option for most New York DUI defendants, it is possible.
The Types of DUI offenses in New York
New York has multiple offense classifications for driving under the influence. The possibility of restrictions on plea bargaining depends on which offense you’re charged with. In New York, the offense classifications include:
- DWI (Driving while intoxicated): Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher or impaired to a “substantial extent”
- Aggravated DWI: BAC of .18% or higher
- Alcohol-DWAI (driving while ability impaired): Ability to drive as a “reasonable and prudent” driver has been impaired to “any extent” by only alcohol
- Drug-DWAI: Ability to drive as a “reasonable and prudent” driver has been impaired to “any extent” by drugs.
- Combination-DWAI: Ability to drive as a “reasonable and prudent” driver has been impaired to “any extent” by a combination of alcohol and drugs.
According to DrivingLaws, an aggravated DUI is the most serious of these offenses. Down from there, a DWI, drug-DWAI, and combination-DWAI all carry approximately the same penalties. An alcohol-DWAI is the least serious of New York’s DUI offenses.
What Offenses Allow for a Wet Reckless Plea Bargain?
Defendants charged with a DWI, drug-DWAI, or combination-DWAI, can generally plea bargain only for one of the DUI offenses.
According to DrivingLaws, the best plea bargain available is for an alcohol-DWAI (the offense that carries the least penalties). Only drivers charged with an aggravated DWI can potentially have their charges reduced to a DWI. However, New York law doesn’t prohibit plea bargaining for defendants charged with alcohol-DWAIs. In these cases, it might be possible for a criminal defense attorney to negotiate a plea agreement for reckless driving or another lesser charge.
In DWI cases, New York law prohibits bargaining for lesser charges when the defendant registered a BAC that was more than 0.08; however, arranging a plea bargain for a wet reckless charge is up to the court’s discretion if the driver’s BAC was at or near the legal limit.
Ultimately, the likelihood of the prosecutor agreeing to a plea bargain depends on the circumstances surrounding your case, but it typically hinges on your BAC at the time of the arrest. If you registered a BAC of 0.08 or less but have a previous DWI conviction, the prosecutor may be less likely to accept your plea bargain.
The Pros and Cons of a Wet Reckless Charge
The pros of a wet reckless charge are obvious. Penalties of a wet reckless conviction are less severe and do not include a mandatory jail sentence. Wet reckless convictions also come with a shorter probation period and lower fines, which are far more manageable for most defendants.
However, although a wet reckless conviction implies less severe penalties than a DWI conviction, having one on your criminal record comes with some serious drawbacks that should be considered. For example, many car insurance providers will treat wet reckless convictions the same way they treat DWI convictions. That means that even with a reduced charge, your premiums may increase or your provider may not reinstate your policy at all.
Additionally, you should understand that New York courts treat wet reckless convictions as prior DWI convictions if you are arrested for a subsequent DWI offense within the look-back period. In New York, the look-back period is typically 10 years, but it can vary depending on the circumstances of your case and how many prior offenses are already on your record.
Do you have questions about your DUI case in Westchester County and White Plains NY? Utilize 30+ years of legal experience and contact Darren DeUrso at 914.772.8614 or online to learn more about having your DUI charges reduced.
188 East Post Road, Suite 300
White Plains, NY 10601