If you are charged with a DUI in Virginia, even if it is your first offense, then you may face license suspension, fines, court fees, jail time, and a permanent mark on your criminal record, which could affect your ability to secure housing, employment, and more in the future.
However, one way you can potentially avert the harsh punishment and stigma that typically accompanies a DUI conviction is to enter a “wet reckless” plea. If you have been charged with a DUI for the first time, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our dedicated Virginia DUI defense attorneys at Bain Sheldon. We will discuss your case with you and evaluate your legal options. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
What Is a “Wet Reckless” Charge?
A wet reckless charge is a charge for reckless driving that involved alcohol. While there is no statutory offense called “wet reckless,” some first-time DUI offenders may be able to enter a wet reckless plea instead of pleading guilty to a DUI, though there is no guarantee that any individual who has been charged with a DUI will be allowed to enter such a plea.
Wet reckless pleas may be granted on a case-by-case basis, depending on the circumstances of your particular case and whether it is allowed in the jurisdiction where you were charged.
DUI Versus Wet Reckless Versus Reckless Driving
If you have been charged with a DUI for the first time, it is important to understand the distinctions between a DUI charge, a wet reckless charge, and a reckless driving charge.
- DUI – A DUI (driving under the influence) may be charged if it’s determined that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol. In Virginia, the legal alcohol limit is a .08 BAC (blood alcohol concentration), but you may be charged with a DUI even if your BAC is lower if alcohol has impaired your ability to drive. A first-time DUI offense will usually be charged as a misdemeanor offense.
- Wet reckless charge – A wet reckless charge is similar to a DUI charge, but typically results in less jail time and lowered fine amounts. You may be able to retain your license, and you would not be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
- Reckless charge – Reckless driving means driving without regard for the safety of others. If you are charged with reckless driving, you would be guilty of a misdemeanor and could face possible jail time and fines. A “dry” reckless driving charge implies that you were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs when you were engaging in reckless driving behaviors.
What You Need to Know About a Wet Reckless Plea
A wet reckless charge is usually only granted to first-time DUI offenders. If your BAC was at or below the legal limit, then your chances of being able to enter a wet reckless plea will be greater than someone whose BAC was above the legal limit. Ultimately, it is up to the prosecutor in your case to decide whether you may enter a wet reckless plea.
You should also note that wet reckless pleas are not permitted in every jurisdiction, and many jurisdictions across the state of Virginia have shifted from this practice in recent years. If you are convicted of a wet reckless charge, you will likely be required to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP).
Finally, you should know that the penalties for DUI convictions and wet reckless convictions are similar. You may still face jail time and fines, as well as license suspension. However, both jail time and fines could be reduced, and you may not have to give up your license.
Contact Bain Sheldon for Help
If you have been charged with a DUI in Virginia for the first time, then reach out to one of our DUI defense attorneys at Bain Sheldon to discuss your legal options and evaluate whether a wet reckless plea might be right for you. Call us at 804-282-8625 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation.