Drunk driving is a severe offense whose conviction attracts life-changing consequences. Since your alcohol content or conduct at the time of arrest plays a significant role in your conviction, you can work with the prosecuting attorney to reduce your charges to a lesser offense like dry reckless’. Under California VC 23103, dry reckless or reckless driving involves operating a motor vehicle with a wanton disregard for the safety of other people. Although you can face charges for reckless driving based on your conduct, these offenses arise as a plea bargain for drunk c-driving cases.
Although you will still face a conviction and possible jail time for dry reckless’, the penalties are less severe than DUI. In addition to spending a shorter time in jail and lower fines, a dry reckless conviction, the chances of retaining your driving privileges are higher. If you face criminal charges for DUI and are hoping for a reduction of your charges to ‘dry reckless,’ you must seek competent legal guidance. We at Los Angeles Criminal Attorney have extensive knowledge and experience defending DUI cases. We serve clients battling DUI charges in Los Angeles, CA, to secure the best case outcome.
Overview of Reckless Driving
In many instances, defendants facing DUI criminal charges negotiate with the prosecution for a reduced sentence of dry reckless’. Dry reckless is a form of reckless driving where the issue of alcohol or drugs doesn’t play a part in your case. This allows you to escape most penalties and disabilities associated with a DUI or wet reckless conviction.
In addition to serving as a plea bargain for drunk driving, reckless driving is a criminal offense for which you can be arrested and charged. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor charged under California Vehicle Code 23103. When you face charges under this statute, the prosecution must prove these elements:
- You drove a vehicle on a highway or off-street parking facility
- You willfully drove the car with wanton disregard for the safety of others
Your driving actions may be considered wanton disregard for safety if you knew that the actions presented an unjustifiable risk of harm and ignored the threat. An intention to cause damage or injure another person is not necessary to secure a conviction under this statute.
As an independent charge or as a plea deal for DUI, dry reckless attracts the following penalties:
- A jail sentence of 5 to ninety days
- Fines ranging from $145 to $1,000
The court may increase your penalties if you cause injury to another person. For a minor injury, you can spend between thirty days to one year in county jail and suffer fines of up to $1,000. In cases where you cause severe bodily injury during reckless driving, you could face a felony conviction and spend three years in prison.
Dry Reckless as a Plea Deal for DUI
Plea deals are not often automatic when you face a DUI charge in California. You must negotiate with the prosecution to secure the reduced charge that serves your best interests. When a prosecutor's DUI case is weak, they may immediately offer a wet, reckless plea deal. You need to be careful when accepting a plea deal. Most plea deals that prosecutors offer without much negotiation are not in your best interests.
When bargaining for a strong and more beneficial plea like dry reckless, you will require a skilled DUI defense attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can be able to gain leverage and sufficient evidence to prove the following facts:
- Your BAC test results were inaccurate
- Law enforcement officers violated your constitutional rights
- There was no probable cause for your DUI stop or arrest
Negotiating a plea deal requires a firm understanding of California DUI laws to create gaps and weaken the prosecutor's case. Some of the benefits offered by a dry reckless plea deal include:
Dry Reckless is not a Priorable Offense
A conviction for drunk driving is a priorable offense. A priorable crime is a crime whose past convictions impact prosecution and sentencing for subsequent offenses. If you face a charge for DUI within ten years of another DUI, the prosecution will charge you with a second offense which attracts more jail time and a stiffer license suspension. Fortunately, when the prosecutor accepts your dry reckless plea, the conviction will not affect your future DUI arrests and convictions. However, you must understand that the judge can impose the sentence they see appropriate for your dry reckless plea.
Less Jail Time
Under California Vehicle Code 23103, a dry reckless plea will only cause you to spend a maximum of ninety days in county jail. By contrast, a first-time DUI conviction under VC 23152 attracts a six months minimum sentence, which could increase to one year for subsequent offenses. In cases where the court offers you misdemeanor probation for your conviction, you may not spend any time in jail for your dry reckless conviction.
The shorter jail sentence plays a significant part when caught up in probation violations. A probation violation occurs when you fail to follow up with all the conditions of probation set at your sentencing. One of the most severe consequences of a probation violation is the revocation of your probation and reinstatement of the maximum jail sentence. Therefore, if you are in this situation, you cannot spend more than 90 days in jail.
Another benefit of shorter probation is when you face an arrest for another offense like DUI or driving without your license. If your probation has expired, you cannot face charges or a conviction for probation violation.
The legal penalties for DUI and dry reckless include jail time, fines, or both. The maximum fines the court could impose for these offenses is $1,000. However, when you add the penalty assessments, defendants who face a DUI conviction could be subjected to fines of up to $3,000, which is higher than the $390 for dry reckless’. Therefore, if you are fortunate to secure a dry reckless plea, you will incur fewer costs for your offense.
No Ignition Interlock Device Installation
After your DUI conviction in California, you may need to install an IID on all your vehicles before you can continue operating. An ignition interlock device is a miniature breathalyzer device installed on your vehicle's dashboard. When the judge orders you to install the IDD, you must have it installed professionally.
You must prove an alcohol-free breath sample every time you start your vehicle. Failure to do this, your car will not start. Any attempts to disconnect the device or records are detected. The duration of the IID installation varies depending on the counts of DUI with which you are charged. For a first offense, you must install the IID for up to six months following your conviction.
Installing an ignition interlock device ranges from $75 to $100. Additionally, you must pay the maintenance fee for the entire duration that the device remains in your vehicle. Failure to install the IID after your DUI conviction may prompt the DMV to spend your license. When the court accepts your dry reckless plea, the court does not mandate the installation of an IID. Therefore, you can continue to operate your vehicle even after the conviction.
You can Avoid DUI School or Attend for a Shorter Period.
Following a DUI conviction, you must enroll in mandatory DUI classes. For first-time offenders, your DUI classes could last between three to eighteen months. When you are convicted for dry reckless’ as a plea deal to your DUI charges, there is no requirement for you to attend the mandatory classes. However, when negotiating your plea deal, the prosecution could mandate that you participate in a six-week program as a requirement for the plea deal.
Shorter Probation Period
Sometimes the court could sentence you to probation for DUI and dry reckless. While probation for the dry reckless plea lasts for one to two years, DUI probation lasts up to five years. One of the benefits you accrue from serving a shorter probation period is that you will be tied to the court system for a shorter time. Additionally, you can quickly serve your probation and petition the court for an expungement.
An expungement is a post-conviction relief that allows you to escape the consequences of your conviction. However, you must complete your probation successfully before applying for an expungement. When you take the dry reckless plea, you can petition for an expungement.
No mandatory Loss of your Driver’s License
The jail times and fines imposed after a DUI conviction are harsh. However, the most life-changing consequence of a DUI conviction is the suspension of your driver’s license. There are two primary forms of license suspension you can suffer. The court triggers one suspension after your conviction and the other by the Department of Motor Vehicle after learning of your arrest.
You can lose your driving privileges for up to six months for a first-offense DUI. The suspension could be longer if you have a prior wet reckless or drunk driving conviction. After a suspension of your driver’s license, you can continue to drive your vehicle by either installing an ignition interlock device or seeking a restricted license. Having your driver’s license limited can significantly affect your livelihood. Even when granted a restricted license, you can only use it to drive to school, work, or DUI classes.
However, when you enter a dry reckless plea, the conviction under VC 23103 will not trigger the suspension of your license. However, the dry reckless offense will add two points to your driving record. Accumulation of points on your driving record may cause a negligent driver status which can also attract a license suspension.
Although the court-imposed license suspension is thrown out when your charges are reduced to dry reckless’, you must attend a DMV hearing to contest the administrative license suspension. The DMV hearing has a lower burden of proof than a DUI criminal case. Therefore, with the guidance of a skilled attorney, you can prevail in the hearing and avoid suspension.
Common Arguments when Seeking a Dry Reckless Plea
When you face DUI charges and are negotiating for a reduction of your charges to dry reckless, you need to explore some arguments that can compel the prosecutor to reduce the charges, including:
Inaccuracy of the Blood Test
The results of your blood alcohol content test will help in determining whether to charge you with reckless driving or driving. If you can create doubt about the accuracy of these results, you may have a chance at the dry reckless plea deal. One of the ways through which you can attack the blood test accuracy is by arguing that the test sample did not have proper preservatives. After drawing your blood sample, the testing officer must preserve it, awaiting the chemical testing. A lack of enough preservatives could cause the sample to produce a higher alcohol content.
The blood test results are the most reliable evidence in your DUI case. However, the blood test is done at the station. Before facing an arrest, the officer will take you through a lengthy investigation process, including physical observations, field sobriety tests, and breath tests. Your BAC does not stop to rise when you stop taking alcohol. Therefore, you can argue that your BAC was within the limit when you drove and increased throughout the arrest process.
Reckless Driving does not Equal DUI.
Sometimes, the traffic officers could base their DUI arrest on your conduct during driving. Some factors that the officers may be looking at include swerving, dangerous change of lanes, and failure to follow basic traffic rules. In your attempt to obtain a dry reckless plea, you can argue that your reckless driving is not linked to the use of alcohol or drugs.
Inaccuracy of the Breathalyzer Device
California law has requirements for the maintenance and calibration of the breathalyzer device. Therefore, you can argue that your BAC results from the breath test were wrong, owing to a faulty breathalyzer device.
Residual Mouth Alcohol
The breathalyzer device does not differentiate alcohol from the consumption of alcoholic drinks and other sources. You can offer other expiations for your high blood alcohol content level. Additionally, you can argue that residual mouth alcohol from foods or mouthwash caused the BAC to rise higher than average.
Circumstances Under Which the Prosecution Can Offer the Dry Reckless Plea
Prosecutors often aim to convict you for the most severe offense that their evidence against you can support. Therefore, obtaining a dry reckless plea deal is not easy. Most prosecutors will only offer this plea if it is in their best interests or to avoid dismissing your case. You are likely to receive this plea under the following circumstances:
1) Low Blood Alcohol Content Levels
The BAC results are key evidence in a DUI criminal case. In California, you violate DUI laws when you operate your vehicle with a blood alcohol content that exceeds the legal limit. 0.08% is the legal limit for drivers operating on a standard driver’s license. The higher your BAC, the more likely you will face a conviction for drunk driving.
DUI defense or negotiation for a plea deal is often based on the BAC test results. Therefore, if you can prove that your BAC was lower than 0.08%, you may have a chance to have your case dismissed. The prosecution ensures you do not walk away from the case without some punishment by offering a dry reckless plea deal. Proving that you operated a vehicle recklessly is easier.
2) Weak Evidence
Another factor that may compel the prosecution to offer you a dry reckless plea for your DUI charges is if they have weak evidence in your case. Like other criminal offenses, the prosecution must prove specific elements of the crime to obtain a conviction. If one of the factors is not established beyond a reasonable doubt, the case becomes weak.
A skilled DUI attorney can challenge the prosecutor’s evidence against you and weaken the case. Some aspects of the case where you can find weakness include the results of your breath and blood tests. You can argue that the officers did not preserve your blood sample correctly.
Another aspect of the case that can weaken the charges includes probable cause. When there is no probable cause for your arrest or DUI stop, obtaining a DUI conviction is less likely. Your attorney could help asses how the arrest occurred and whether or not the police officers followed the proper channels.
If the prosecution discovers that their evidence against you is weak and they may fail to obtain a conviction, they can offer you the dry reckless plea deal.
Other DUI plea Deals
In addition to dry reckless, there are other plea deals you can negotiate to avoid a conviction for drunk driving, including:
- Wet reckless. Under California VC 23103.5, wet reckless’ is the most common plea bargain offered by prosecutors for defendants facing DUI charges. Unlike dry reckless, alcohol is a factor in your wet reckless plea. Whether or not the wet reckless plea is favorable for you depends on the circumstances of your case.
- Exhibition of speed. Exhibition of speed is one of the most favorable plea deals for DUI. California VC 23109(c) defines the exhibition of speed as accelerating the speed of your motor vehicle to dangerous levels.
Dry Reckless Vs. Wet Reckless
The goal of each criminal defense attorney is to secure the most favorable outcome in your case. Dry reckless and wet reckless are two possible plea deals that allow you to face a conviction for a lesser offense and lesser charges. Some of the similarities between wet reckless’ and dry reckless are that both:
- Attract a misdemeanor conviction
- Affect your immigration status
- Do not have a mandatory minimum license suspension
- Do not trigger a requirement to install an ignition interlock device
While there are some similarities to these plea deals, dry reckless offers more benefits to a person facing DUI charges, including:
A Dry Reckless is not a Priorable Offense
Like standard DUI and aggravated DUI cases, wet reckless’ is a priorable offense. Therefore, even when you escape a conviction and the consequences of a DUI conviction through a wet reckless plea, the conviction still counts in subsequent convictions. For example, if you face a DUI charge after a wet reckless conviction, your DUI is prosecuted and punished as a second offense.
On the other hand, a dry reckless' is not a priorable offense and does not affect the sentencing for subsequent DUI offenses. The prosecution and court system look back to ten years when considering prior DUI offenses. Therefore, it would be more beneficial to negotiate for a dry reckless.
Fewer Issues with Auto Insurance
Most auto insurance companies will take action against you when they learn of your DUI or wet reckless conviction. This could include an increase in your monthly insurance premiums or termination of your policy. When you commit a crime of reckless driving, or your DUI charge is reduced to reckless driving, your auto insurance company is less likely to take strict action against you.
Find a Criminal Lawyer Near Me
The stakes are high if you or your loved one faces an arrest and criminal charges for drunk driving. The consequences of a conviction for DUI go beyond prison time and can have long-lasting effects on your life. Fortunately, not all DUI arrests result in a conviction. There are various ways through which you can fight the charges for a reduction or dismissal. Seeking a plea deal for dry reckless’ is a great way to avoid the consequences of a DUI conviction.
Dry reckless, commonly known as reckless driving under VC 23103, is driving a vehicle unsafely but without alcohol. If there is insufficient evidence to prove that you were intoxicated at the time of the accident, you can face a conviction for 'dry reckless’ instead of a DUI. Reckless driving attracts lesser penalties and has fewer long-term consequences on your life. Seeing legal guidance is paramount when you or your loved one battles DUI charges. At Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we offer top-notch legal representation for all our clients battling DUI charges in Los Angeles, CA. Contact us today at 424-333-0943.