Can I Plead to "Wet Reckless" in South Dakota?
Does the Mount Rushmore State Permit Plea Bargains for DUIs?
Yes, it’s possible that a DUI defendant may be able to make a plea bargain for either a wet reckless or some lesser offense. Unlike some states, there is no statute that specifically prohibits plea bargaining in South Dakota. However, a South Dakota DUI charge can only be reduced or dismissed if the D.A. specifically files a statement with the court clerk explaining the reasons for reduction.
The wet reckless
The term, “wet reckless,” is used to describe a reduced plea arrangement made by a driver arrested for driving while intoxicated. (The driver pleads to reckless driving with alcohol involved -- hence the “wet” reference.) A wet reckless plea typically carries fewer obligations, punishments, and costs than a traditional DUI.
Keep in mind, however, that because of public pressure, most prosecutors are hesitant to plea bargain down a DUI charge. In South Dakota, such pleas are typically made for first-offense impaired driving offenses where the driver’s BAC is borderline (slightly above or below the .08% requirement), and where there was no property damage or personal injury resulting from the incident.
The advantages of a wet reckless plea are that the fines are lower and there is usually no jail time. The driver’s DUI record is kept clean. However, if the driver later is arrested for a DUI, the wet reckless will be treated like a prior- DUI conviction. In other words, the newer arrest will handled as if it were a second DUI offense (with the accompanying penalties).
Some South Dakota drivers are surprised to learn that insurance rates often jump higher for drivers convicted of a wet reckless than a DUI (although both are labeled as "high risk drivers”). That’s because the statistical data used by insurance companies shows that reckless drivers get in more accidents than those convicted of DUI.
Seek an attorney’s help
Although it’s possible for a driver to handle a plea bargain, it is strongly recommended that the driver seek an attorney’s assistance when attempting to plead down a DUI to a wet reckless.