Facing a charge for driving under the influence can be a scary experience, especially for first-time offenders. Often, people charged with drunk driving charges are not significantly above the legal limit or history of prior driving under the influence charges. In such circumstances, it may be possible for the criminal defense attorney representing you in your case to work with prosecuting attorneys to achieve what is known as a “wet reckless” plea. There is no actual charge or crime in Colorado known as a “wet reckless” charge. This is a made up term that describes pleading to a non-alcohol-related offense such as reckless driving – an option that may be available in some very rare circumstances.
What is a “Wet Reckless” Plea?
Basically, instead of pleading guilty to driving under the influence or driving while ability impaired, a driver that is able to mount a successful “wet reckless” defense will be pleading guilty to reckless driving. In Colorado, reckless driving is defined by law as “[a] person who drives a motor vehicle, bicycle, electrically-assisted bicycle, or low-power scooter in such a manner as to indicate either a wanton or a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property…”
A “wet reckless” plea is very rare and not easy to obtain so anyone charged with a DUI in Colorado should not expect this as their outcome. In order for a District Attorney to dismiss or amend the charges from a DUI to reckless driving the District Attorney must be willing to state on the record to the court that they cannot prove one or more elements of the offense and therefore their only option is to dismiss or amend the charge. Because Colorado law requires this, it is extremely difficult to get Colorado DUI charges reduced to a reckless driving conviction. Obviously dismissal or reduction of the charges is the goal in any and every case, but often the facts of the case dictate the outcome much more than the history of the person being charged with the DUI offense. While having no prior offenses, no prior criminal history and a low BAC are all helpful, those factors alone will not be enough to get your DUI charge reduced to a “wet reckless” in Colorado.
Consequences of a “Wet Reckless” Conviction
In Colorado, a conviction for reckless driving includes a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. However, first-time reckless driving convictions rarely end in jail time and the penalties associated with a first-time reckless driving conviction are considerably more lenient than penalties associated with a conviction for driving under the influence, unless such reckless driving results in serious bodily injury of another. Probation periods for a “wet reckless” conviction can be less, too. Whereas probation periods for convictions for driving under the influence can range from three to five years, probation periods for reckless driving are generally in the range of one to two years.
A “wet reckless” conviction does not automatically result in suspension of your driver’s license. Reckless driving convictions are assigned the same number of points on a person’s driver’s license as driving while ability is impaired, which is eight points. In Colorado, adult drivers 21 years of age or older cannot accumulate 12 or more points in one calendar year or more than 18 points in two consecutive calendar years. If a person surpasses this point limit, their driver’s license could be suspended. People convicted of reckless driving will still need to request a Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles hearing to keep their driver’s license, and it must be done in the time period allotted by law. However, possible suspension as a result of a reckless driving conviction is not automatic as it is with conviction for driving under the influence.
Facing DUI Charges
If you are facing first-time DUI charges, and especially if you may qualify as a repeat offender, it is important that you have the assistance of a criminal defense attorney with experience handling charges related to driving under the influence. A DUI attorney that has experience with these types of charges will be aware of the options available to you, and can help you choose the best defense to face your charges. Jay Tiftickjian has written multiple books focused on defending Colorado drivers against charges related to driving under the influence, and can use that experience to work with you, too. Contact the Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation about your case today.