A "wet reckless" is the common term for a plea bargain that takes a DUI or DWI charge and reduces it to reckless driving involving alcohol (or drugs). For many people faced with a DUI or DWI, a wet reckless is preferable because it does not have mandatory prison time or license suspension attached. Those convicted of a wet reckless may not have to install an interlock device in their vehicle, and the fines are greatly reduced compared to those of a DUI or a DWI. However, fewer plea bargains are being accepted due to stricter drunk-driving laws that are easier to prove in court, such as a DUI being automatically assumed for people with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over a certain level. With that in mind, you should know there are certain times when you will want to try to plea down to a wet reckless.
Your BAC Was at or Below the Limit in Your State
In most states, a BAC of 0.08% or higher will result in a DUI, even if your driving was not erratic or dangerous and if you did not seem to be under the influence of alcohol. If you submitted to a BAC test, and your level was significantly above 0.08%, a prosecutor will be unlikely to agree to a plea bargain because they are almost assured a conviction. However, if your BAC was at or below 0.08%, the prosecutor will have to prove that you were under the influence by your actions, and that is much more difficult and makes it more likely that you will be granted a plea.
Your BAC Was Not Measured
In some states, you have a right to refuse a BAC test. However, often this is looked on unfavorably if your case goes to trial because some juries may see your refusal as an indicator of guilt. However, if you have a legitimate reason for not wanting to have your BAC measured, such as a fear of needles in case of a blood test, or if the test was administered over an hour after your arrest, you may be able to successfully plea down to wet reckless because the prosecutor will be missing a critical piece of evidence.
You Have Credible Witnesses Who Can Attest to Your Sobriety
If you were in a highly public place, and several people saw you acting normally and in control before you got into your vehicle, you may be more successful in submitting a plea bargain. However, if you were at a party where most of the witnesses were also impaired, at a bar, or on your own before you began driving, you may have a more difficult time getting a plea bargain.
It Is Your First DUI Arrest
Prosecutors are more likely to offer a plea bargain to first-time offenders rather than repeat offenders. If this is your first DUI arrest, then you have a better chance of getting a plea bargain. However, you can still get a plea bargain if you already have one or more DUI convictions if your prosecutor lacks significant evidence and you have an experienced DUI attorney working on your behalf.
You Are Unable to Plea for Dry Reckless or Drunk in Public
If you are able to plea down to a dry reckless, which is reckless driving without the influence of alcohol, or drunk in public, which is being intoxicated without driving, these are preferable to a wet reckless. These convictions often have less severe penalties and will not harm you if you are arrested for another DUI in the future. Your lawyer should always consider these two possibilities before submitting a plea bargain to a wet reckless.