When facing DUI charges in California, your attorney may convince the court to reduce your charges to dry reckless during a plea bargain. You should know that dry reckless is different from wet reckless and other options in a plea bargain. As much as this DUI reduction charge seems to be a suitable option, you should find an attorney’s intervention to learn more about it and make the right decision in a plea bargain. Contact us at the LA Criminal Defense Law Firm and let us help you work on a solution towards your DUI charges.
Definition of Dry Reckless Charges in California
A dry reckless is a misdemeanor charge applied in DUI cases where the defendant was driving in a way that shows flagrant disregard of people and property's safety. It is usually a suitable plea bargain in a DUI case since it attracts less severe consequences than standard DUI convictions. The penalties for dry reckless in California include:
- 1 to 5 years of misdemeanor probation
- A maximum of 90 days in jail
- A maximum fine of $1000 and paying all court costs
Factors that might Influence a Prosecutor to Offer a Dry Reckless Reduction from a DUI Charge
Several aspects can influence a prosecutor to offer a dry reckless reduction in a DUI charge. These factors are referred to as the "problem of proof." These factors are as follows.
The Breathalyzer was Not Properly Calibrated
Under the Title 17 regulations, breathalyzers should be regularly calibrated to maintain their efficiency. Therefore, if you and your attorney can prove that the breathalyzer was not correctly calibrated, you can be in a better position to consider a plea bargain and reduce your charges to dry reckless.
Violation of DUI Blood Test Sample Storage Protocols
There are specific protocols that should be considered once a DUI suspect has been subjected to a blood test. These protocols are part of the Title 17 requirements that apply to both breath and blood tests. These rules are as follows:
- An authorized technician should draw your blood
- The technician should use an alcohol-based cleaning agent to sterilize the draw site
- The technician should use sufficient preservative or anticoagulant to ensure that the blood sample doesn't ferment and produce high BAC readings
- The anticoagulant or preservative should not be expired
- The preservative or anticoagulant should be sufficiently mixed with the blood sample
- The blood sample should be stored appropriately
Violation of any of the above-stated requirements can lead to false BAC reading. Therefore, if you can prove that the technician or other related officials violated any of those requirements, you can have your DUI charges reduced to dry reckless.
Prove That You Suffered from Severe GERD
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a recognized medical condition that can create a possible mouth alcohol situation. This condition produces an acidic flow that moves from the stomach to the mouth and can lead to a false positive BAC results in a breath test.
Therefore, if there is medical evidence proving that you are suffering from severe GERD, you can request the court to reduce your DUI charges to dry reckless. However, you must provide relevant evidence proving that you were suffering from GERD during the breath test to have your plea bargain accepted by the court.
Prove That You Had Residual Mouth Alcohol During the Breath Test
Alcohol from any alcoholic beverage can last in your mouth for a maximum of fifteen minutes or longer, depending on the type of drink that one has taken. Breathalyzers can pick residual mouth alcohol and can lead to a false positive BAC result.
In that case, you must explain to the court that you took an alcoholic beverage before your DUI stoppage and test hence the high BAC results. For instance, the presence of beverage cans in your vehicle can be relevant evidence proving that your high BAC result was as a result of residual mouth alcohol.
Demonstrate that the Officer Did Not Allow a 15-minutes Observation Before Testing
DUI officers should observe a DUI suspect for 15 full minutes before a DUI breath test. Therefore, if you can question whether the observation took place, you can make a dry reckless plea bargain.
Most officers do not observe the suspects and instead do the paperwork and immediately set up the breathalyzer after stopping their vehicles. This makes it possible to disapprove of whether the recommended observation time took place.
Prove that You Were Improperly Advised of Your Rights
The U.S constitution expects police officers to notify criminal suspects about their rights during an arrest. They should advise them about the rights to silence, the right to an attorney, and the right to a court-appointed counsel if indigent. They should also notify you that anything you speak can be used against you in court during prosecution.
This means that any evidence gathered without these warnings can be excluded. This includes any incriminating statements, field sobriety test observations, and biological evidence. The court might comply with your plea bargain for a dry reckless if this kind of evidence is excluded in your prosecution.
Lack of Probable Cause to Arrest You
The United States Constitution prohibits law enforcement officers from arbitrary pulling over or stopping private citizens without reasonable suspicion. This means that the police must have a gut feeling or hunch that a particular person has committed a crime before stopping him or her.
In a DUI arrest, traffic officers must observe actions like weaving off the road, disobeying traffic laws, and obeying speed limits to stop a driver for a DUI check. However, if you were not demonstrating signs of intoxication during your stoppage, any further evidence collected is inadmissible in court. You can use this situation to reduce your DUI charges to dry reckless.
Prove that Bad Driving is not DUI
The fact that you are demonstrating some behaviors that indicates that you are DUI does not necessarily mean that you are under the influence. Sometimes weaving, speeding, and erratic driving is often as a result of distracted or inattention driving. Maybe you were:
- Working with the music player
- Navigating your smartphone
- Trying to play a CD
- Distracted by your passengers
In case you were charged based on the above-stated behaviors, you should prove to the court that you were not under the influence to reduce your DUI charges. This would be successful if your BAC readings were below the recommended level, but you were still accused of DUI due to your erratic driving behaviors.
How Dry Reckless Compare with Wet Reckless
The purpose of a plea bargain in DUI charges is to try to reduce a DUI charge to a reckless driving charge. However, you can bargain your DUI allegations to a dry or wet reckless. These two types of charge reductions can be confusing to someone without an attorney. Here is a detailed comparison between dry and wet reckless.
Wet Reckless Driving
Under California Vehicle Code 23103.5, a wet reckless can occur as part of a plea bargain for a DUI charge. A wet reckless implies that alcohol was involved during your reckless driving. Please note that the court cannot initially charge you for wet recklessness but can only charge you through a plea bargain with the prosecutor.
The penalties for a wet reckless include jail time, loss of driving privileges, and mandatory enrollment in an alcohol education program. However, a wet reckless conviction has a lighter penalty than DUI. A wet reckless does not necessarily make you lose your driving privilege. It also attracts a shorter probationary period, and attendance to a DUI class only lasts for a short period. A wet reckless conviction also attracts fewer fines, and defendants do not have to fill an SR-22 form while acquiring their driver's license. It might also be ideal for professionals that require to report their DUI convictions.
One of the downsides of this type of conviction is its functional equivalent to a DUI conviction. This means that it can be considered a prior offense to increase the punishment for a subsequent conviction. Therefore, if you have one wet reckless conviction, the subsequent DUI conviction would be referred to as a second DUI, meaning that you will probably face harsher penalties.
The other downside of wet reckless is that insurance companies consider it a DUI for your insurance purpose. Therefore, the cost of your insurance will likely increase.
The Advantages of Dry Reckless As a DUI Charge Reduction
Dry Reckless has several advantages over wet reckless. These advantages make dry reckless a better plea bargain. Here is a detailed view of these benefits.
Dry Reckless is not Priorable
As stated earlier, dry reckless is not priorable. Therefore, any wet reckless conviction or subsequent DUI within ten years cannot be enhanced due to a prior dry reckless plea deal.
You Do Not Have to Install an Ignition Interlock Device
Most DUI convictions would require the defendant to install an ignition interlock device. However, you can avoid this requirement if you are charged and convicted with dry reckless.
Dry Reckless Attracts Shorter Jail Sentences
A dry reckless carries a potential jail sentence with a maximum of 90 days. On the other hand, a DUI conviction carries a maximum jail sentence of 180 to 364 days in county jail. In contrast, wet reckless attracts at least 90 days in jail for a second-time DUI and at least 120 days for a third time DUI.
Less Probationary Time
Typically, a DUI sentence carries probation for three to five years. However, dry reckless probation has potential probation of one to 3 years.
Dry Reckless Carries a Lower Fine
DUI convictions carry a fine that ranges from $390 to $1,000. In a dry reckless sentence, the minimum penalty is $145.
You Do Not Necessarily Need to Lose Your Driver’s License
Once your DUI charges are reduced to dry reckless, your driver's license will not be automatically suspended. However, due to your initial DUI charges, you would still have to contest your license suspension at an administrative hearing before the Department of Motor Vehicle. The contest should help you obtain a ruling proving whether your BAC was 0.08% or not while DUI.
There is No Compulsory Participation in DUI Classes
Anyone convicted of DUI should attend a 3-18 mandatory DUI class. This is different in a dry reckless conviction since it is not compulsory to attend DUI classes. However, the prosecution or judge may still expect mandatory participation for six weeks to fulfill the plea deal requirement.
Your Insurance Policy Cannot Be Easily Cancelled
Insurance companies will likely ignore dry reckless convictions and less probably cancel your insurance policy. This means that you do not necessarily have to file an SR-22 form.
Plea Bargain in a DUI case
A plea bargain in a DUI case is a negotiated alternative to a jury trial. A plea bargain typically involves a sentence reduction or a charge reduction. To have your sentence reduced, you have to plead guilty or no contest to driving under the influence. In exchange, you will receive the agreed-upon penalties and save you the uncertainty of waiting to see what the judge will impose after being found guilty at trial.
A reduction of your charges involves pleading guilty to a lesser charge. These reduced charges result from a negotiation between the prosecutor and the defense. Typically, you will be charged with lighter penalties and less stigma than a DUI conviction.
Other Types of Charge Reductions Apart from Dry and Wet Reckless
There are other types of charge reductions that a defendant can bargain for apart from dry or wet reckless. Let's have a closer look at them.
Exhibition of Speed
Exhibition of speed or "speed ex" is a less common type of charge reduction in a DUI case. It is a suitable type of charge reduction when the prosecution's case is relatively weak. This kind of charge reduction is a misdemeanor offense and carries potential penalties that include probation, jail time, and fines. It also adds some number points to your DMV driving record.
However, in most cases, speed ex charges can result in no jail time, fines, and probation for a lower period than a DUI conviction. This makes it a desirable option for most DUI defendants.
Drunk in Public
Drunk in public or DIP is another favorable charge reduction option for a DUI charge. It is usually referred to when it is not apparent whether the defendant was driving, but was found to have a high BAC reading. For instance, it might be suitable for a defendant who was found passed out in a parked car.
Drunk in public is a misdemeanor and carries potential jail time and a small fine. However, if it is not a driving-related offense, it will not lead to a negligent operator points on your DMV record.
Drinking Alcohol in a Vehicle
You can have your DUI charge bargained down to consuming alcoholic beverages in a vehicle in some circumstances. This law makes it a crime for a passenger or driver to drink alcohol in a car parked in a public street.
Drinking alcohol in a vehicle is agreed on when the prosecutor's case is weak. For instance, if the defendant's blood or breath test show is slightly higher or at the legal limit, this would be a suitable plea bargain for your DUI charges. In this case, the chemical test will be enough to suggest that there is "reasonable doubt" and create a situation where the prosecution or the defense does not want a possibility of a negative outcome during the trial.
Drinking alcohol in a vehicle is a suitable plea bargain since it is a non-criminal infraction that attracts a less severe penalty. It does not also add points to your DMV record.
Prosecutors usually offer traffic infractions as a DUI plea bargain as a last resort. This is a suitable option when you are relatively sure that driving under the influence would not stick.
Traffic infractions are not criminal offenses and attract small fines only. Prosecutors sometimes offer a plea bargain deal for a DUI that has two infractions. These are referred to as a "pair of movers." They typically involve one moving offense that can be worked off in traffic school and placing DMV points on the driver's record.
For instance, the prosecution can offer movers as your plea bargain deal if they believe that there was too much violation of Title 17 requirements and if their criminalist could not validate the chemical test results.
Importance of Having an Attorney Represent You
Criminal convictions carry potential punishments such as substantial fines, jail or prison time, or loss of your rights. It also puts you at risk of having your criminal convictions accessible during a background check. This makes it essential to hire an attorney to represent you and avoid severe consequences from your sentence.
It also demonstrates the risk of representing yourself in a court trial. Representing yourself would be a bad idea since the prosecutor would not take you seriously due to your lack of knowledge of the court proceedings. In that case, here are a few factors that emphasize the need to have an attorney represent you.
Failing to Have an Attorney Usually Puts You at a Disadvantage
In a case, representing yourself can easily lead to more costs than your expectations if you are convicted for the alleged offenses. However, with the help of an attorney, you can have your fines reduced to the lowest option and end up saving your expenses.
Attorneys Can Help in Documentation and Paperwork
You have to file the right paperwork while progressing through your case. This expectation can be challenging if you do not involve an attorney. Therefore, you might end up delaying or leaving out some of the paperwork and significantly affect your case's outcomes.
Attorney Have the Right Skills to Deal with Evidence
Attorneys know how to find and use evidence more than you can do. They have already established a network of professionals to collect evidence. These relationships are valuable and would significantly affect the outcomes of your case.
Attorneys Can Represent You in an Organized Manner
Court proceedings follow a specific order, and most people cannot follow them unless they have studied law. Even for suspects that have studied law, these procedures can be contradicting if one does not have enough courtroom experience. That's why it is essential to hire an attorney to handle these procedures accordingly and ultimately lead to a better outcome from the case.
Lawyers are well-aware of Courtroom Etiquette
As stated above, courts usually maintain a particular order in everything that they do. There are specific ways that one should present a motion, give a witness, and submit evidence. These actions and requirements can be challenging to the suspect and might fail to meet them as expected. Therefore, having an attorney by your side can be a suitable option since he or she will help you jump through any legal hoop and help you strengthen your case.
An Attorney Will Tell You What to Expect
Dealing with criminal justice is a scary experience, especially when there are chances of being charged with a crime. However, criminal defense attorneys deal with this system every day and know what to expect in many situations. This would be a suitable option in a plea bargain. Your DUI attorney will know whether or not to present specific evidence to the court with a particular expectation in mind. This increases the possibility of getting a dry reckless as your plea bargain deal.
Find a Los Angeles DUI Attorney Near Me
Hiring a DUI lawyer after your arrest is crucial. An attorney can help you understand your charges and the legal options to avoid serious legal consequences. An attorney will help you receive a dry reckless conviction in your plea bargain in a DUI charge. At The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm, we understand how the criminal justice system works in Los Angeles courts and what the government is looking for to file charges against you. Call us anytime at 310-935-1675 to discuss your case.