A dry reckless occurs when you agree to plead to a reckless driving charge under Vehicle Code 23103 if charged with a DUI charge. In California, DUI charges are severely punished with hefty fines and lengthy jail terms under Vehicle Code 23152. However, your lawyer can persuade the prosecutor to charge you with a lesser offense through a plea deal. With a dry reckless, you face less stringent punishments than a standard DUI violation.
DUI charges are priorable, meaning if you repeat the offense, your punishments become harsher. This is an aspect you should not worry about when pleading to a reckless driving charge. One of the reasons dry reckless is a better deal than a standard DUI charge is that the offense is not priorable. However, to earn this deal, you need an experienced attorney’s help. If you are in California, contact Leah Legal for excellent representation.
Understanding Dry Reckless
Under VEH 23103, dry reckless is a misdemeanor offense. Vehicle Code 23103 defines penalties for driving vehicles with wanton disregard for other people's safety or property. When you drive while intoxicated or impaired, your driving pattern could endanger other motorists’ or pedestrians’ lives and cause property destruction. The law considers this behavior as a willful disregard or disrespect of lives and property belonging to others.
An important aspect to understand this offense is that you don't face direct charges. The charges for this offense originate from a standard DUI charge. If a traffic officer stops you on the road for suspected drunk driving, they will charge you with VEH 23152 violations after confirming the offense’s elements. The penalties for a DUI are harsher than for dry reckless. After your DUI charges, your attorney will discuss your case with the prosecutor and persuade them to allow you to take a guilty plea to the lesser charges of dry reckless.
The prosecutor has the discretion to reduce or uphold your charges. This means your attorney must be persuasive enough to present convincing facts to the prosecutor. However, before approaching the prosecutor, your lawyer discusses the available options with you and the advantages of the options over a standard DUI charge. Besides dry reckless, your lawyer will mention wet reckless as a possible plea bargain charge as well.
The distinguishing factor between dry reckless and wet recklessness is that a wet reckless conviction involves drugs or alcohol. On the other hand, dry reckless does not involve alcohol. After evaluating your case and the prosecutor's evidence against you, your attorney will also inform you of the possible outcome under each aspect. If you are convinced that your attorney should approach the prosecutor to discuss a plea deal, a meeting will be set.
Obtaining a Dry Reckless Charge as a Plea Deal
After permitting your attorney to discuss a plea deal with the prosecutor, a meeting is set to discuss the various aspects or elements of the violation. During the discussion, your lawyer will express your desire for a plea deal. Further, your lawyer will present a convincing argument about why you deserve a dry reckless deal instead of any other. In this case, your lawyer acts as the go-between to present your needs.
If the prosecutor denies you the deal, your attorney will inform you of the decision, and you begin to prepare for a DUI defense. However, your lawyer will prepare you to take a guilty plea for the lesser charge if the deal is offered. When you take a plea deal, you must understand that you will not have the privilege of defending the charges against you. Instead, the judge will sentence you for the offense guided by the statute under which the violation falls.
After the deal is offered, your lawyer presents you with the outcome, and you discuss it. If it is agreeable to you, your attorney will go back to the prosecutor and inform them. When you are all in accord, the next person that must agree is the judge. In California, the judge must approve of the plea deal before the sentence is passed.
After the judge's approval, you will then take a plea of guilty or no contest for the reduced charge of dry reckless. The DUI violations you were charged with initially are dropped in favor of the new ones. Communication is also sent to the DMV, informing them of the change in charges.
One dilemma every defendant is faced with is the question of accepting or declining the deal. The elements or facts and circumstances of the violation are often used to determine whether accepting the plea deal is to your advantage or not. Additionally, it would help compare the penalties under the type of a deal or a DUI charge before accepting the offer.
Why a Dry Reckless Charge is better than a DUI Charge
Your attorney would advise you to take a bargain deal primarily because of the many advantages over facing standard DUI charges. Some benefits of forgoing your right to a trial and opting for a dry reckless are:
Reduced Sentence Enhancements when you Repeat the Offense
A DUI and a wet reckless conviction or sentence are priorable. This means that should you repeat the offense, the charges you face are steeper based on your previous sentence. For instance, if you were ordered to pay $390 in fines for your first DUI offense, a repeat may result in you paying $500. However, when your charges are reduced to dry reckless, the sentence is not priorable. This means that if you repeat a DUI offense, your prior conviction or sentence will not be used to determine your punishment for the present charge.
DUI laws in California allow automatic increase for penalties for subsequent offenses, but this is not the case with a dry reckless. Although the judge can choose a more severe punishment when you repeat or have multiple offenses on dry reckless, they are under no obligation to increase your penalties compared to DUI charges.
Jail Time Sentence is Relatively Shorter
According to VEH 23103, a dry reckless conviction carries a shorter jail period than a standard DUI. If you are sentenced on a dry reckless, the maximum jail time would be three months in county jail. A DUI violation if a first offender carries a maximum of 6 months of county jail time. If you repeat the DUI, the second conviction in ten years carries a maximum of a year of jail time.
If the judge sentences you to probation under dry reckless, violating the terms could lead to probation revocation and a jail sentence. Here, your incarceration's maximum time is 90 days, which is relatively shorter than the six months in a DUI conviction.
There is no Requirement to Fit an IID in your Car
If you are convicted of a DUI offense, the court will order you to install your vehicle or all the vehicles you drive an ignition interlock device. This device works like a regular breathalyzer where you are required to breathe into it before starting your car. If the gadget detects alcohol, the car will not start. But if no alcohol is present, the car starts, and after certain intervals, it will require you blowing into it again. With this device, however, you will keep driving to any place without restrictions.
Installation of this device is critical, especially where the court suspends your driving privileges. But, the dry reckless charge does not trigger the court to suspend your driving privileges. This means that to continue driving freely; you don't have to fit your vehicle with an IID.
Shorter Probation Period
A first DUI conviction carries misdemeanor probation that ranges from three years to five. However, a dry reckless conviction probation period is relatively shorter than that of a DUI. Typically, probation after dry reckless sentencing lasts from one year to two. This makes dry reckless a better option when faced with DUI charges because you serve your sentence in a short time.
One of the conditions in a DUI probation is that you do not commit another offense as you serve it. Unfortunately, if you commit another DUI offense, your probation is revoked, and you serve a jail sentence of not more than 90 days. If your probation period was one year, and after you commit a DUI, the judge will not look at your prior record and punish you with a longer one.
Another advantage of the short probation sentence is that you can expunge your criminal record after a short time. If convicted on a regular DUI, you can only expunge your record after completing your probation period, which is longer than that of a dry reckless one.
Payment of fines is one of the standard penalties when faced with a DUI violation in California. The law is strict on DUI charges and, as a result, charges hefty fines if convicted. The fines in a DUI offense often are increased if aggravating factors exist on the offense. In a DUI charge, a conviction carries a fine of between $390 and $1,000. However, these charges are often higher because of other administrative fines charged. Normally, a first DUI offender can pay a total of $1,500 in fines, while a conviction on the dry reckless charge carries a maximum of $1,000. In comparison, a dry reckless minimum penalty charge is $145 and $390 for a misdemeanor DUI.
You Could Retain your Driving Privileges
As earlier stated, DUI charges initiate a compulsory suspension of a driver's license. This suspension for a first offender can last a minimum of six months to one year. If you were previously convicted on a wet reckless or DUI, the suspension period becomes longer. But, you can still enjoy driving provided you fit an IID in your vehicle.
If you accept the plea deal under VEH 23103, the court will not suspend your license. But, the offense adds two points to your DMV record. If these points accumulate, your license may be suspended as a negligent operator.
An important point to note is that the court or the DMV can suspend a driver's license. The DMV decision is independent of the court, meaning even when the court doesn't suspend your license, the DMV can still suspend it. When you take a plea deal, it means you do not endure a criminal trial that results in the sentencing calling for a license suspension.
However, when you are arrested on suspected DUI and charged, the DMV is informed and will automatically suspend your license if you do not request a hearing to defend your license. If you do seek a hearing, it must be within ten days from the arrest day. Your lawyer is allowed to represent you and present arguments to the DMV why you should not have your license suspended. After the hearing, the DMV decides to suspend or not suspend your license. The court's decision on how to charge you for the offense does not influence the DMV decision.
Shorter DUI School Programs
One of the sentences in a DUI conviction is attending a DUI education program. If you are a first offender, the minimum period is three months, and a repeat offense can extend to thirty months. But, when you are convicted on a dry reckless, attending a DUI school is not required. During the negotiations, the prosecution may indicate that you attend a DUI school as part of the conditions to offer a deal. If this is the case, the program is usually shorter, lasting a maximum of six weeks.
Advantages of Dry Reckless over Wet Reckless Conviction
When your attorney is negotiating to have your charges reduced, the options include wet reckless as earlier discussed. Under this, you will also take a guilty plea for reckless driving, and your conviction record will outline that the offense involved drugs or alcohol. Most prosecutors start a plea deal by offering wet reckless as the first option.
When the prosecution grants wet reckless, your lawyer can further negotiate to have a dry reckless instead. Advantages of dry reckless over wet reckless include:
Dry Reckless isn't a Priorable Offense
Wet reckless is priorable, similar to a DUI. When you are convicted on a wet reckless, it means a subsequent conviction will attract steeper penalties. The period typically under consideration for repeat offenses is ten years.
On the other hand, a dry reckless isn't priorable, meaning a subsequent conviction will not be pegged on your prior one. If you repeat the offense within ten years, the judge will not use your past DUI conviction record to sentence you, but instead, it will be considered your first offense. This is of benefit because first offenders are punished less severely than repeat offenders.
Your Insurance Service Provider will be more Understanding
When you are convicted of wet reckless, most insurance providers consider you a high-risk client just like a DUI conviction. This leads many to cancel your auto policy or to increase the premiums. But, if you are sentenced with dry reckless, your offense is not highly scrutinized by your insurance provider, and your premiums or policy will not be affected by it.
Qualifying for a Dry Reckless
When seeking a plea deal after a DUI charge, prosecutors will often offer wet recklessness instead of a dry reckless. Earlier, we stated that a wet reckless has more severe consequences than dry reckless, making it preferable to prosecutors. However, with a skilled attorney, they can negotiate your case to have the prosecutor reduce your violation to dry reckless. For you to qualify for dry reckless certain factors must be present, and they include:
Your BAC Level
A lower BAC level is highly considered in a dry reckless than a high one. If your BAC were below 0.08% or close, the prosecutor would consider granting you a dry reckless deal. When your BAC levels are high, this fact acts as an aggravating factor that will deny you the plea deal.
If the evidence for a DUI offense is weak, the prosecutor can easily be persuaded to offer you dry recklessness as a plea deal. This is typical where errors were made during a defendant's arrest and investigations. For example, your attorney can argue that the BAC results were inaccurate or invalid since the breathalyzer device was not routinely maintained as required by the law. Additionally, your lawyer can ask for a retesting of the blood sample you provided to confirm the BAC levels.
While testing for BAC levels using chemical tests, the officer conducting the tests must follow the guidelines outlined under title 17. If any of the rules were breached, it might mean a compromise on the results. All these facts are adequate to have the prosecutor grant you a dry reckless plea deal.
Find a DUI Lawyer Near Me
Standard DUI offenses are severely punished in California. When you are faced with a DUI charge, one of the best ways to avoid the harsh penalties is by negotiating a plea deal with the prosecutor. A dry reckless charge is one of the best deals the prosecutor can offer you, but you need an experienced attorney’s help to secure it for you. At Leah Legal in California, we have represented many defendants facing similar charges and assisted them in obtaining dry reckless as a plea deal. Call us at 818-484-1100, and we will discuss the strategies that are best for your case.