If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), you may be able to work out a plea deal to a reckless driving charge. There are two types of reckless driving charges: standard reckless driving, which is also known as a dry reckless, and wet reckless driving. A wet reckless charge is essentially a reckless driving charge involving alcohol, and it’s only available in certain states.
The benefit of pleading down to a dry or wet reckless charge is that both carry less severe penalties than a DUI. Depending on your state and the circumstances of your case, a DUI could result in significant fines, a driver’s license suspension and possibly even jail time. Either type of reckless driving charge will have lesser penalties, with a dry reckless being less severe than a wet reckless. You can also get reckless driving charges expunged from your record. A reckless driving charge isn’t as detrimental to your driving record as a DUI, which makes it difficult to obtain car insurance.
Whether or not you’ll be able to plead to a lesser charge for your DUI case depends on your driving record and the evidence that the prosecution has. Prosecutors are much more likely to offer you a plea deal if there are issues with the case against you that could lead to the case getting dismissed or result in a not guilty verdict.
What types of issues can result in a better chance at a plea deal? Every part of your traffic stop and your arrest could contain something that you can use in your defense.
Did the officer have probable cause to pull you over in the first place? If so, were you showing signs of impairment, or did he give you a mandatory breathalyzer without any probable cause? Did you perform field sobriety tests, and if so, what aspects of your performance made the officer feel that you were impaired? A skilled defense attorney will examine the arresting officer’s conduct to see if he had probable cause for the actions that he took.
If the officer took your blood alcohol content (BAC) using a breathalyzer, when was the last time that the device was calibrated? A breathalyzer that wasn’t calibrated recently enough before your traffic stop can’t be relied on to provide an accurate reading. If that’s one of the main pieces of evidence against you, your defense attorney could get you a plea deal or possibly even get the case dismissed.
If you had your blood taken to check your BAC, was it someone who had been trained in drawing blood, or a police officer? There are many ways that a blood sample can produce an inaccurate BAC reading, including when isopropyl alcohol is used for sterilization before inserting the needle, and when the tube for the blood draw doesn’t have anticoagulants in it. How was the blood stored, and was a detailed log kept about who had possession of the blood at all times? A defense attorney will look for any possible mistakes made with your blood sample that could render the results unreliable.
Just because the prosecution lacks an airtight case doesn’t mean that they’ll drop it, but they could offer you a plea deal if they’re not confident in their chances at trial. Your best chance at getting a plea deal will be hiring a defense attorney to represent you and prepare your defense. DUI cases are complicated, and a defense attorney will have intricate knowledge of potential flaws in the prosecution’s case. Your defense attorney can look at the strengths and weaknesses in the evidence against you, and then use those weaknesses to negotiate a favorable plea deal. It’s never a sure thing that you’ll be able to get a DUI reduced to a reckless driving charge, but it’s far more likely when you have an attorney working for you.
For many who are arrested for driving while intoxicated, there is a sense of resignation to what seems to be inevitable: pleading guilty as charged. However, because of the important legal rights involved and the increasingly harsh penalties impose by courts in DWI matters, you would be wise to consider all your options before you act.
Time is of the Essence
As soon as you are booked for DWI charges, the legal timeline clock begins ticking. Most people understand this as it pertains to the criminal case that will be filed by the prosecutor’s office, but this also applies to an administrative proceeding initiated by your state agency responsible for driver’s license regulation, the department of motor vehicles. Unless you or you DWI lawyer request a hearing within a very short period of time, typically 10 days, your license is automatically suspended. According to fellow NYC Dwi attorney Aaron Wallenstein, many people often have their license suspended because they don’t take this hearing seriously! These DMV administrative hearings are technical in nature, and the average person will find him or herself unable to mount a viable defense. An experienced DWI lawyer understands the issues and can speak the language of the DMV.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, there are many potential options available in contemplating how best to develop a defense in a DWI criminal case. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your particular case, one or more of the following issues may be raised:
• The reason for the stop. Law enforcement cannot pull you over for no reason. The legal standard is the officer must have a reasonable suspicion a crime was being committed or imminent. This is less than the probable cause required for an arrest but something more than a hunch.
• The interaction between you and the officer after the stop. What were you asked? What did you say in response? Was anyone else in the car that can verify what occurred?
• Were you asked to perform any field sobriety tests? Did you do so? Which test or tests? Where exactly were the test(s) administered? Were there any witnesses?
• The circumstances of your arrest. What did the officer say to you? Did you say anything in return? How were you treated
• Miranda advisement. Were you informed of your rights? When?
• Chemical test. When you were taken back to the station, were you advised of a choice of which chemical test you would take? Did you make such a choice? Approximately how long after you were pulled over was the test administered?
The law is quite clear that any evidence gathered by the police through illegal or improper methods is subject to exclusion. Thus, for example, if the basis for why you were stopped is deemed without legal justification, your entire case may be thrown out by the judge. More often, however, an experienced DWI lawyer can uncover various weaknesses in the prosecution’s case that can make a conviction at a potential trial less than a certainty. Your lawyer will certainly go for an outright acquittal but will also explore plea bargain options that can be beneficial to you as an alternative.
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