Wet reckless: Pleading to a lesser DUI offense here in Florida

With Memorial Day right around the corner, you can be certain that law enforcement agencies across the state of Florida are busy making preparations for a long weekend of enhanced DUI enforcement from saturation patrols to sobriety checkpoints.

What this essentially means is that local law enforcement will be looking for any reason to pull people over on suspicion of drunk driving — from speeding to neglecting to use a turn signal. While this tactic will result in a large number of sober — and understandably peeved — motorists being temporarily detained and even ticketed, it will also result in a considerable number of impaired driving arrests.

As we’ve discussed before on our blog, those drivers who make the mistake of having one last drink before getting behind the wheel must remember that they are not without options.

By way of example, consider what is known as a “wet reckless” plea bargain.

Recent Case Result

DUI Charge Reduced to Reckless Driving

Case Number: 2018-MM-003383-A

Result: Charge Reduced from DUI to Reckless Driving and no DL Suspension

Our client crashed into a commercial vehicle and then left the scene. She was followed to an apartment complex where she passed out behind the wheel and threw up on herself. She blew a .230 (three times the legal limit). The video evidence was bad. She already had a prior DUI conviction from a few years ago. I spotted two issues with the investigation and filed two motions to suppress. Our motions were set for a hearing and two weeks before our hearing the State offered a wet reckless with no license suspension. Our client happily accepted that offer and now she won’t lose her license for 5 years via an administrative suspension from the DMV. She also won’t be required to obtain the costly FR44 insurance.

Under Florida law, those drivers who are charged with driving under the influence may be able to reach an arrangement with the prosecutor whereby they are able to plead to the lesser offense of reckless driving involving alcohol. Here, the presence of alcohol is why it’s labeled a wet reckless.

The obvious advantage of a wet reckless is that since it’s a lesser offense, the punishment is not nearly severe and the person’s criminal record remains clear of any DUI.

It’s important for people to understand that prosecutors are typically only amenable to a wet reckless for first-time DUI offenses in which no property damage or personal injuries occurred, and the driver’s blood alcohol content was very close to the legal limit.

It’s also important for people to understand that if they are arrested for a second DUI offense, the prior wet reckless can be viewed in the eyes of the law as a first offense, meaning the subsequent DUI arrest will be treated as a second offense, not a first.

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can help you examine all of your options, and fight to protect your rights whether in negotiations with the prosecutor or the courtroom.