If you are facing DUI charges for the first time you are undoubtedly nervous and unsure of your options. This is not something anyone plans and when it happens all you know is that you are in the middle of a nightmare.
Now, of course, the best case scenario is an acquittal. But what if you do not think you have a chance of that happening? First, talk with your DUI defense attorney. The law is complex and the case against you may not be as hard as you think it is. But what if your defense attorney also thinks an acquittal is unlikely? Then what may be suggested is a plea bargain to a lesser charge and the most common charge would be a wet reckless driving charge (a reckless driving with an added statement related to having consumed alcohol). At this point you may be wondering, “Well, is this better? Do I want this or not?”
There are benefits to pleading guilty to a wet reckless charge if the other option is a DUI conviction. There are no minimum sentencing requirements. There is less chance of you being ordered to get an ignition interlock device and your probation will be shorter. A DUI has a five year probationary period. A Reckless Driving’s maximum probationary period is two years. Plus, the license suspension period on a Reckless driving is only 30 days compared with 90 or 1 year on a DUI. Also, a reckless driving can come off of your record. A DUI never does. This can be a huge factor for people in certain careers.
But there is also a bad side. First, to accept this plea bargain you will need to plead guilty to the wet reckless charge. Once you enter a guilty plea it can not be undone. You will still have penalties and you will probably be required to attend drug and alcohol classes. It is possible that the DMV will still suspend require an ignition interlock license even if the court does not. Plus your insurance company will still increase your premiums.
The next detriment will also seem odd. Also, the point of that additional statement about alcohol which makes it a “wet” reckless is that it hit your legal record. If you got cited later for a DUI the wet reckless charge and conviction would be counted as a first offense DUI. As you can probably imagine this would mean that any potential penalties you might face would be dramatically heavier than would otherwise be the case.
So there are both pros and cons. It depends on the case. Would this be a good move for you to make? That is one of those questions you will want to raise with your DUI defense attorney.
Another possibility for a plea bargain could be negligent driving first degree which is a misdemeanor. This would have basically the same pros and cons to consider as a wet reckless plea with even smaller penalties and no license suspension. Another plea bargain possibility to discuss with your defense attorney would be reckless endangerment. This would especially be one to consider if there were passengers, especially children, in the car. The charge of reckless endangerment is classified as a gross misdemeanor just like a DUI. So, you would still be facing the potential maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $5000 fine. However, keep in mind that it is very rare for a first time offender to be given the maximum penalty. Due to reckless endangerment having the same classification and potential penalties as a DUI charge you might be wondering how this plea could benefit you. You will not be facing some of the additional life penalties that can come with a DUI such as being required to install an ignition interlock device plus it will only count as a DUI on your driving record in the event of a subsequent arrest so that worry would be gone. Whichever route you choose you will want to discuss with your attorney and remember that any decision is ultimately yours.
Getting a defense attorney is a good first step. You need someone on your side who cares about you and knows the law; you need someone will be able to compassionately counsel you and passionately defend your rights. That’s what you get when you hire from Smith & White, PLLC for your Pierce County / Tacoma DUI defense attorney. Call Smith & White, PLLC – the first consult is free.