DUI or Wet Reckless?

What is a 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 charge of wet reckless typically carries fewer obligations, punishments, and costs than a traditional DUI/DWI.

Can you plead to a wet reckless in your state?

The answer depends on your state laws (click your state below). Rules vary across the nation in regard to “wet reckless” style pleas. For example, many states do not use or recognize the term “wet reckless” yet, they may offer the benefits of reduced penalties and plea bargains. At the same time, over a dozen states specifically prohibit plea bargains in DUI/DWI cases. Yet, even in states where plea bargaining is prohibited, an attorney may be able to reach a deal with prosecutors. That’s often because there are really two types of plea bargains: “Charge bargaining” and “sentence bargaining”.

Charge bargaining refers to a reduction in charges. Pleading to a wet reckless is a form of charge bargaining because the driver is being charged with a lesser offense. Charge bargaining is often what is prohibited in the many states that prohibit plea bargains.

Sentence bargaining refers to the assessment of penalties if a guilty plea is made by the defendant. In most states, including many that limit plea bargains, sentence bargaining is permitted. This is where an attorney’s assistance comes into play.

Second offenses and insurance

One of the possible advantages of a wet reckless plea (or similar pleas) is that the driver’s DUI record is kept clean. However, typically, 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 likely be handled as if it were a second DUI offense (with the accompanying penalties). Some drivers are also 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 DUIs.

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