One of the most pressing questions in any DUI / DWI case is whether to take the case to trial. Sometimes it’s better to let a jury decide a drinking and driving case, but some drivers charged with drunk driving may want to consider a plea bargain when offered. An experienced California DUI / DWI lawyer can evaluate each case to determine whether pleading guilty to a reduced charge is in the driver’s best interests, and negotiate the best possible deal.
Plea bargains are negotiated settlements between a prosecutor and a drunk driving defendant’s attorney. Prosecutors typically offer a plea agreement when the case against a driver isn’t particularly strong, and there is a chance the prosecution won’t win in court. As the term “plea bargain” implies, the deal has to be a bargain for both sides. The prosecutor saves the taxpayers the cost of taking the case to trial. The driver pleads guilty to either DUI with negotiated consequences, or a reduced charge.
One such charge is alcohol-related reckless driving, also known as wet-reckless. In many ways, wet-reckless is similar to a DUI charge – if a driver is arrested again for drunk driving within 10 years, the wet-reckless charge counts as a prior drinking and driving conviction. Also, most insurance companies view wet-reckless the same as a DUI, and the driver faces increased premiums.
However, a wet-reckless plea is better than a drunk driving conviction in many respects. The charge carries no mandatory alcohol education classes, and no license suspensions and no SR-22 filing required if the driver has a successful DMV hearing. The wet-reckless plea is also a good option for individuals with professional licensing concerns, such as doctors, psychiatrists, and real-estate agents.
Wet-reckless pleas are most likely to be offered when the defendant’s chemical test showed a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .10 percent or less. Wet-reckless is a misdemeanor charge, and carries less severe court punishment than a DUI conviction.
Sometimes a plea bargain is a favorable outcome for a DUI / DWI defendant, and sometimes it isn’t. A lawyer who specializes in drunk driving defense can determine whether a plea agreement is fair and appropriate, and can advise whether pleading guilty to wet-reckless is the best course of action.