Can I Plead to "Wet Reckless" in Washington?

Plea bargaining a reduced charge in Washington drunk driving cases.

In some states, it’s possible for a motorist who’s accused of driving under the influence (DUI), to “plea bargain” for a lesser charge. When such a plea bargain is for a reckless driving charge, it’s sometimes called a “wet reckless.”

Plea Bargaining in Washington DUI Cases

Reckless Driving

Washington law doesn’t restrict plea bargaining in DUI cases. So, for a Washington motorist who’s accused of driving under the influence, plea bargaining for a wet reckless is a possibility.

The benefit of pleading to a wet reckless is simple: The penalties for a reckless driving conviction are less severe than those for driving under the influence.

First-Degree Negligent Driving

Another plea option in Washington DUI cases is an offense called “negligent driving in the first degree.” The offense is defined as:

  • operating a vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers property or another person, and
  • while exhibiting the effects having consumed drugs or alcohol.

First-degree negligent driving is a misdemeanor. A conviction carries up to 90 days in jail and a maximum $1,250 in fines and penalty assessments.

(Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 7.68.035(1)(a), 46.61.5249 (2017).)

Second offenses

Washington, like all other states, punishes repeated-DUI offenders more severely than DUI first offenders. For sentencing purposes, prior DUI convictions stay on a person’s record for seven years. But it’s not just DUI convictions that count as “priors.” Where a driver – who was originally charged with a DUI – plea bargains for a wet reckless or first-degree negligent driving charge, that conviction will count as a “prior” if the driver is later convicted of a DUI.

(Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 46.61.5055 (2017).)

Talk to an Attorney

If you’ve been arrest for driving under the influence, talk to an experienced local DUI attorney. The facts of every case are different. A qualified DUI lawyer can talk to you about what the possibilities are for your case.

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