Colorado law, judges, and prosecutors take DUI or DWAI charges very seriously. If an officer charges you with such a crime you may suffer significant penalties. Some of these penalties, like an automatic DMV suspension of driving privileges, happen even before you have your day in court. If you take a plea or are subsequently convicted, you face driver’s license suspensions, stiff financial penalties, points on your driver’s license, and other legal penalties. And even in today’s culture, there remains some social stigma that comes with getting a DUI.
Many DUI clients come to us asking if it is possible to get the charges dismissed or lessened to something more benign than DUI or DWAI. The answer is yes, under specific circumstances. Your DUI charge defense attorney can assess the particular facts of your case and evaluate the possibility of getting the charges lowered to a “wet reckless.”
What Is a Wet Reckless?
“Wet reckless” is not a proper legal term. It is a casual term lawyers use to refer to a specific plea bargain in alcohol- or drug-related driving cases. Do not search the state statutes for the term “wet reckless” because you will not find it. There is technically no such thing in our state code. But under certain circumstances, your lawyer may be able to negotiate to get your case downgraded from the original DUI charge to reckless driving. Since the resulting reckless driving charge involves alcohol and requires you to complete alcohol education classes, legal teams often refer to these as “wet reckless” charges.
What Are the Advantages of Wet Reckless Pleas?
If the prosecuting attorney offers you a wet reckless plea bargain and you take it, your record will reflect a reckless driving conviction instead of a DUI conviction. This is important for a few reasons.
- Less social stigma: Reckless driving is not an alcohol-related offense, so employers or anyone looking at your record will not see a DUI conviction.
- Less jail time: A DUI carries a possible one-year jail sentence, whereas reckless driving carries a maximum jail sentence of only 90 days.
- Less driver’s license suspension: Although the DMV may have already suspended your license shortly after arrest, a plea to reckless driving imposes no further suspensions on your driving privileges like a DUI or DWAI.
- Less financial penalties: A reckless driving plea carries a fine of up to $300—far less than a DUI, which carries a fine of up to $1,000.
As you can see, there are multiple benefits when you take a plea to reckless driving as opposed to DUI. However, these lesser charges are not easy to get.
How Do I Get the Prosecutor to Lower My Charges to Wet Reckless?
The very first thing you must do to have any chance at getting your DUI charges lessened to a wet reckless is hire a lawyer. Only a lawyer knows specifically what to look for that might persuade a prosecutor to lower your charges. And it is not easy to do. Colorado law makes it very difficult for any prosecutor to justify lowering DUIs to non-alcohol-related charges. According to Colorado Revised Statutes Section 42-4-1301(4):
“No court shall accept a plea of guilty to a non-alcohol-related or non-drug-related traffic offense or guilty to the offense of UDD from a person charged with DUI or DUI per se; except that the court may accept a plea of guilty to a non-alcohol-related or non-drug-related traffic offense or to UDD upon a good faith representation by the prosecuting attorney that the attorney could not establish a prima facie case if the defendant were brought to trial on the original alcohol-related or drug-related offense.”
So what does this mean? It means that before a judge can accept a downgrade to reckless driving, the prosecutor must make a statement. As an officer of the court, the prosecutor must attest that their case is too weak to win at trial. This is a very high bar indeed. In other words, the prosecutor really cannot just make a simple judgment call on these cases. According to Colorado law, they must put on the record that their evidence is not enough to win at trial. Only then can they offer a deal where the defendant pleads to the lesser charge called a wet reckless.
Here are the main factors that a prosecutor considers when determining if offering a wet reckless is justified:
- Lack of prior DUI or other criminal record;
- Blood alcohol content was barely at or even a bit under the legal limit;
- Breath or blood test issues, e.g., the officer administered the test in a questionable manner;
- No accident or injuries;
- Evidence of impairment was weak or inconsistent; and
- Lack of probable cause for the stop.
These are the main factors that make or break your ability to get your DUI downgraded to a wet reckless. Essentially, your lawyer has to find and expose weaknesses in the state’s case against you. After uncovering the weaknesses, they present these factors to the prosecutor who must then make the decision. Is their case weak enough that they might lose at trial? If so, then the law allows them to extend a plea deal that downgrades the charges.
Don’t Delay! Call Today
Although wet reckless convictions have many benefits over DUI convictions, they are not “get out of jail free” cards. These are still serious traffic charges that carry penalties like possible jail time and fines. But for many people, a wet reckless is a welcome relief to the serious repercussions of a DUI conviction. Only an experienced criminal charges defense lawyer can properly assess your case and help you determine the most advantageous plan of action. So call seasoned criminal charges defense attorney Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., or contact us online to set up your free initial consultation today.