Just because you’re charged with a DUI doesn’t mean that’s the charge you have to accept. Believe it or not, most prosecutors are fairly happy to work out a plea bargain with those facing charges in order to save time and preserve valuable court resources. Alabama law doesn’t restrict or prohibit bargaining on DUI charges, so it’s worth talking to your Birmingham DUI attorney to determine if this is right for you.
The “Wet Reckless”
When it comes to DUI charges, the most common level they can be negotiated down to is a reckless driving charge. This gives them the more commonly-known name of “wet reckless.” This essentially means that in exchange for agreeing to plead guilty, your prosecutors will only pursue reckless driving charges against you.
Why Should You Make This Trade-Off?
Title 32 Section 32-5A-190 of the Code of Alabama defines reckless driving as driving with negligent disregard endangering property and the lives of others. Reckless driving is considered a misdemeanor crime that carries a maximum of five days in jail and a fine of up to $500. These charges carry significantly lighter penalties than a DUI.
However, most first offenders who don’t have any special circumstances to their case (i.e. significant property damage or resisting arrest) rarely have to serve even a single day in jail as long as they behave while in custody or if you enroll in a jail-alternative work program.
That means not only do you avoid the hassle of having a DUI on your record, but you also avoid some of the harshest DUI penalties, including the license suspension.
When Will You Not Be Able to Bargain?
In many cases, a DUI charge that comes from something like a traffic stop or sobriety checkpoint in which nobody was injured or placed at risk may be able to be negotiated down to a wet reckless. However, in more serious situations, the chances of being able to negotiate are highly unlikely.
A few situations may include:
- Felony DUI charges: DUI which results in the bodily injury or death to someone else
- Excessive DUI: DUI with an excessively high blood-alcohol content
- Repeat DUI offenders
- Excessive property damage
If you’ve been arrested and charged with DUI and any of these factors are also present, the odds of being able to negotiate with your prosecutor for a plea bargain are slim to none. It’s highly advised you speak with an attorney if you wish to consider this option.
Should I Pursue a Wet Reckless Plea Bargain?
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, plea bargaining shouldn’t always be your first choice, especially if you believe you may not be guilty. It’s far better to fight your charges and end your case with nothing on your criminal record whatsoever. For example, if you were surprised to find that you blew over the limit because you didn’t feel inebriated or intoxicated, your attorney may be able to request the records that show that the breathalyzer used to test you was calibrated incorrectly, thus compromising the results of your test.
Discuss your case with an attorney from the Tidwell Law Group, LLC today by calling (205) 536-7770 for a case evaluation!