Can My DUI Be Reduced to a Reckless Driving Charge in Florida?

driving under the influence of alcohol

Although a first-offense DUI is a misdemeanor charge, it carries significant consequences and hardships in the state of Florida. Among them is the fact that, once you are convicted of a DUI in Florida, it can never be expunged (removed) from your criminal record. Your best chance to avoid a DUI conviction is to take action before your trial with the help of an experienced DUI lawyer in Orlando.

A caring attorney will do everything possible to have the charge against you dropped or to achieve a verdict of “not guilty.” Unfortunately, there may be circumstances preventing these outcomes, such as when there is too much evidence against you. In a case like this, a DUI lawyer will fight to have your DUI reduced to a reckless driving charge.

Florida Reckless Driving Charges

Reckless driving is defined in §316.192 as the operation of a motor vehicle while demonstrating a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of people or property. This offense may be a misdemeanor or felony depending on any serious bodily injury. Assuming there is no serious bodily injury, reckless driving as a misdemeanor offense carries less serious penalties than a misdemeanor DUI in Florida.

Benefits of Lowering your DUI to a Reckless Driving Charge

It’s important to note that a judge cannot modify criminal charges in Florida. The only person who may negotiate with and persuade the prosecutor in your case to reduce your DUI before your trial is your Orlando criminal defense lawyer. If there is little chance of having your DUI charge dropped, the next step is to get it reduced to a reckless driving charge.

reducing a drunk driving offense

The following are benefits associated with pleading down a DUI to a charge of reckless driving in Florida:

  1. A plea to a DUI is a mandatory conviction. If you enter a plea to a reckless driving charge you may avoid a conviction. If you can avoid a conviction you may be able to seal and then expunge your records.
  2. You may face a lower maximum fine. A first-time DUI can lead to a fine of between $500 and $1,000, while a reckless driving charge leads to a fine of a minimum of $25 to a maximum of $500 for first-time offenders.
  3. A reckless driving charge hardly carries the same stigma as DUI, meaning that, when you look for employment, you likely will not be hindered by the conviction.
  4. A DUI can cost you your job, especially if you drive for a living or if driving is part of your job duties. Your employer may be more sympathetic toward a reckless driving charge.
  5. The second time you face a DUI charge will be your first time if you are convicted of reckless driving instead of a misdemeanor DUI. This ensures the severity of future charges is reduced.

Factors that May Lead to a DUI Reduction

The prosecutor in your case may consider several factors to determine whether or not to reduce your DUI charge to a charge of reckless driving. The main factor he or she may use to make this decision is how likely it is that he or she may obtain a “guilty” verdict at trial. A prosecutor concerned about a “not guilty” verdict may be more inclined to reduce the charge to make it more likely to obtain a “guilty” verdict. Other considerations include:

  • Whether the officer noted in the report that the driver was “polite and cooperative”
  • Concerns about the breath test results
  • Concerns about the legality of the stop, arrest, or detention
  • The Defendant lack of criminal record
  • The Defendant’s background such as education, career and other factors
  • The Defendants lawyer’s reputation in the legal community
  • Concerns about the defendant’s refusal to submit to testing

Wet Reckless

A wet reckless is a reckless driving charge in which the court has reasonable cause to find that drugs or alcohol contributed to the offense. A prosecutor may reduce a DUI to a charge of wet reckless as part of a plea bargain. A wet reckless conviction may require the accused to complete a DUI educational course for alcohol or substance abuse. Failing to comply with DUI counseling requirements after a reckless driving plea may lead to a driver’s license suspension. It allows the Prosecutor to reduce your DUI and still get you some DUI education and potential counseling. It can be a win-win for the Prosecutor and the Client as the Client avoids a DUI and can potentially seal their records.

Building a Strong Case

The Orlando DUI lawyers with the Umansky Law Firm have over 100 years of combined experience helping thousands of people fight DUI charges. They have successfully reduced or eliminated DUI charges facing their clients. Seek a free consultation to discover how one of our talented lawyers can help you prepare for your case. The sooner you hire an attorney, the more likely it is that you will be able to take action against your DUI charge before your trial. Do not hesitate to call (407) 228-3838 or contact us online.