Have you been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in or around the Chicago metro area? This is a scary experience for anyone, especially because a DUI for first-time offenders with no aggravating circumstances is a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor carries the following potential penalties:
- up to one year in county jail;
- up to $2,500 in fines;
- driver's license suspension; and
- alcohol treatment program.
What's more is this: a DUI conviction is problematic because a second or subsequent DUI conviction means harsher penalties the second or third time around even though it's the same crime. Plus, there are collateral consequences specific to a DUI conviction. For instance, a DUI conviction can lead to a denial of security clearance or can affect a person's professional license. It can also mean travel restrictions outside the country and problems securing specific jobs, like commercial driving jobs or other positions that require a clean driving record.
So, a first-offense DUI has serious consequences, and that's reason to be worried after a DUI arrest in Chicago or anywhere in the metropolitan area.
But it is possible that, in some situations, for a DUI attorney to secure a plea deal where you plead guilty or no contest to a wet reckless charge. In some respects, a wet reckless charge is a lesser offense, though it is a Class A misdemeanor, too. But it doesn't carry all the same penalties and the collateral consequences. Further, unlike a DUI, you could possibly get your conviction expunged or sealed later.
At Dolci & Weiland, our DUI attorneys aim to provide you with a comprehensive defense of a DUI allegation. In some cases, the best option is a plea deal involving a wet reckless charge. Sometimes, it's best to fight the charge. Here, we provide an overview of wet reckless charges. If you still have questions or want to begin a smart, strategic defense, contact our office today.
What is Illinois's Wet Reckless Charge?
Wet reckless charges are really reckless driving charges. The "wet" part of the name refers to alcohol or drugs associated with reckless driving. Wet reckless is basically a nickname for when a DUI is reduced to a reckless driving charge.
Reckless driving can be committed different ways. For the purpose of making the charge eligible for alleged DUI offenders via a plea deal, the relevant part of the offense is this, found at 625 ILCS 5/11-503(a)(1):
(a) A person commits reckless driving if he or she:
(1) drives any vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
The offense, as mentioned, is a Class A misdemeanor. It can also be charged as a Class 4 or Class 3 felony when someone is seriously injured. When, however, a DUI offender allegedly causes an accident and someone is injured or killed, the offender will not be eligible for a reduced charge of wet reckless.
When Are You Eligible for a Wet Reckless Plea Deal in an Illinois DUI Case?
When a person is arrested for a DUI in Chicago or the greater metro area, he or she may be eligible for a wet reckless plea deal when:
- the DUI arrest is the alleged offender's first DUI arrest;
- you have no criminal record; and/or
- the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is low.
Remember, though, it is up to the prosecutor to offer such a plea. But you would always want to make sure that, if offered the plea deal, it is the best option for you given your unique circumstances.
Is a Plea Deal in an Illinois DUI Case Your Best Option?
Plea deals are sometimes good and sometimes not so good. In most cases, you always have to either admit guilt or plead no contest, both of which leave you with a criminal record. Some offenses under a plea deal, however, can later be expunged. In the meantime, however, you still have to fulfill all the terms of the plea deal successfully.
In cases of DUIs and plea deals where you are offered the opportunity to plead to a reckless driving offense rather than a DUI, it may be in your best interests. But this type of plea deal isn't as good as it once was. You may still be sentenced to jail – though, for a first offense, you will likely get probation in lieu of jail.
The only real benefits to pleading down to a wet reckless are these:
- You may not lose your driving privileges (but still could).
- You may not have to attend alcohol or drug treatment classes (but most likely you will have to and you will be responsible for the costs).
- The collateral consequences may not be as extensive (e.g., you will still have a criminal record, but a reckless driving charge is less damaging than a DUI charge.)
- You may be able to get the charge expunged or sealed (which, as already mentioned, can't be done with most DUI convictions).
So, these are real benefits, but plea deals have consequences. You must look at the totality of the case and what the evidence says. Sometimes, a prosecutor may offer this type of plea deal because the case against you is weak. Your attorney will review what he believes is the best option to take: either take the plea or go to trial. But it will be up to you to decide based on your attorney's advice.
What are the Penalties of a Wet Reckless Conviction in Chicago?
The penalties of a wet reckless are not unlike the penalties of a first-offense DUI. A reckless driving offense is typically a Class A misdemeanor. This offense carries the following penalties:
- up to one year in county jail;
- up to $2,500 in fines;
- probation; and/or
- alcohol or drug treatment classes.
Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney in Illinois
If you have been arrested for a DUI, there is the possibility of securing a plea deal. A plea deal would likely involve pleading guilty to a wet reckless offense. It is always best to discuss any plea deal offer with your criminal defense attorney.
To get started on your DUI or reckless driving defense today, contact Dolci & Weiland. We know what to look for when it comes to plea deals. We also know how to negotiate with the prosecutors in Cook County and DuPage County to ensure the deal is in your favor. Contact us today to learn more about our approach and to get answers to your questions.