Those arrested on DUI charges in Washington state face harsh penalties. Even for a first conviction, offenders could be punished by up to $5,000 in fines, a driver's license suspension between 90 days and 1 year, up to a year in jail, and installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) at their expense. Penalties become increasingly steep with subsequent convictions.
In some cases, a criminal defense attorney can attempt to argue down a person's DUI to a charge of "wet reckless," essentially reckless driving with alcohol present. This can be very advantageous as wet reckless carries significantly less penalties than a DUI. If this is your first DUI offense your attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the DUI charge to a wet reckless conviction through a plea bargain. This outcome is not guaranteed but if your attorney is successful in getting the charge reduced you can expect to be sentence to community service and/or an alcohol diversion program.
A DUI can also be pled down to a Wet Negligent Driving (Negligent Driving in the 1st Degree), which is a Misdeameanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or $1,000.00 fine. A conviction for Wet Negligent Driving does not carry any Department of Licensing license suspension and/or revocation as opposed to a Wet Reckless Driving conviction, which carries a mandatory 30+ day DOL license suspension.
Pros & Cons of a Wet Reckless Charge
There are several potential benefits of pleading guilty to a wet reckless charge versus a DUI charge including a reduced probability that the court will require you to install an IID in your vehicle, a shorter probationary period, and the opportunity to keep your driver's license.
On the other hand, if you plead guilty to a wet reckless, the DMV may still choose to suspend your license independent of the court through a DOL hearing. In addition, most car insurance companies treat DUIs and wet reckless charges the same, meaning you could still see an increase in your monthly premiums or you may even be dropped by your insurer.
If you are charged with DUI, an Edmonds criminal defense attorney can work to have the charges dropped by challenging the evidence against you. They can contest the police stop itself, the breathalyzer test you were administered, and the arrest. If any were not done according to strict code or were not sufficient to support the charge against you, your case could be thrown out.
A wet reckless charge should be held back as a last resort, as a good DUI lawyer can try and fight your DUI charge in the first place. I have more than 35 years of practicing criminal law both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney fighting for the rights of people that were in your exact position. If you need an Edmonds criminal defense lawyer in the wake of a DUI arrest, put my experience and skills to work and Call my office to learn how we can help.