In the event that you are stopped on suspicion of a DUI, subsequently arrested for a DUI, and ultimately charge for driving under the influence, your best chance at minimizing the cost of a DUI conviction to yourself is to obtain competent legal counsel at the outset. The attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm have been trained by the best, have years of experience, and can boast excellent results. Our attorneys have a number of techniques available for to them to fight to have the case against you dismissed outright, have the charges against you reduced, or ultimately minimize the consequences of a conviction.
The first thing your attorney can do for you in an effort to have the case against you dismissed, is to attack the arresting officer’s basis for arresting you on suspicion of driving under the influence in the first place. Generally, the officer was relying on the results of a breathalyzer test. As mentioned elsewhere on this site, breathalyzers are not infallible objects that always yield an accurate result. They could have been improperly calibrated (they must be calibrated every 150 uses for every 10 days, whichever happens first), the breathalyzer test could have been conducted improperly, or any other number of things. If that doesn’t work, your attorney can attack what the breathalyzer was actually testing. It is not uncommon for mouth alcohol to affect what the breathalyzer tested, resulting in an artificially high BAC. This is why police officers are required to wait 15 minutes between them suspecting you are under the influence and conducting the test; failure to do this automatically excludes the results. If they do wait the required 15 minutes, there may still be something that artificially inflates the results of the test. GERD, mouthwash, chewing tobacco, and dentures often have an impact on the results of the breathalyzer test.
If any of these approaches by your attorney succeeds, the results from the test will be excluded; this means that the jury will never see it. As you can imagine, a key component of a DUI charge is that you were actually over the legal limit while you were driving. If the jury can’t see the results of a test, the Prosecutor is left with the testimony of the arresting officer as to whether or not they had reason to believe you were under the influence. Once again, skilled attorneys can eviscerate an officer’s testimony by calling into question the conditions at the time of the stop, what they observed, inconsistencies between their report and what they are saying in court, and a plethora of other lines of reasoning. If your attorney is able to get the breathalyzer test kicked out, you will likely defeat the charges against you.
In a general sense, the plea bargain phase of the DUI process (see 10 steps of DUI) has your attorney, and the Prosecutor negotiating with each other and presenting the facts of the case in a manner that is drive by a desire to reduce the charges against you. There are a few outcomes to the plea bargain phase as it relates to a DUI: the Prosecutor could offer what is known as a wet reckless, the Prosecutor could have something known as a dry reckless, or even a drunk or intoxicated in public. All of these outcomes carry much lesser sentences than a conviction for a DUI.
It is a common, but mistaken, belief that if you are being charged with your first DUI, it will end quickly and favorably. This is not the case. California vigorously prosecutes DUIs, and treats it as a serious offense, even if it is your first time. In order to adequately protect your interests and freedom, it is critical to involve the attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm early in the process so that your legal counsel can be proactive and aggressive in defending you from Prosecution. The best way to do that is to obtain evidence suggesting your innocence early in the process so that your attorney can take that to the Prosecutor’s office and convince them to drop the case, or offer a lesser charge. One of the most common plea bargains Prosecutor’s offer is known as a “wet reckless.“
California Vehicle Code §23103 and 23103.5
Frequently, the Prosecutor will offer a plea bargain where the Defendant pleads guilty to what is known as a “wet reckless” in exchange for the Prosecutor dropping the DUI charges against them. “Wet” refers to an individual who had some relation to alcohol and vehicle use. You cannot be charged with a wet reckless initially, but must wait for the Prosecutor to offer it as a plea bargain. There are many advantages to accepting a plea deal of wet reckless, but there are also substantial consequences. Prior to accepting or declining the plea deal, take the time to understand the benefits and costs of a wet reckless.
Benefits of a Wet Reckless
If you are a repeat offender, you will not be forced to go to jail for any period of time
If you have been convicted of a DUI in the past 10 years, a plea bargain of wet reckless may allow you to avoid jail time. If you plead to a wet reckless, you will not receive jail time, regardless of prior DUIs. If you are facing the 3rd DUI charge in the last 10 years, you could be looking at upwards of 120 days in jail. If you take a plea deal of wet reckless, you will not serve any time for the wet reckless.
Reduction in time spent on probation
The typical DUI conviction in California requires a mandatory probation period of three to five years. However, if you are offered, and accept, a plea deal where you plead guilty to a wet reckless, the probationary period is dropped to a period of 1 year to 3 years. People seeking to become employed in the near future can really benefit from the reduction in the probationary period; this is particularly so because a criminal charge cannot be expunged while the individual is on probation for that crime.
While a DUI or a wet reckless carry a maximum fine of $1,000, a conviction for a DUI carries additional costs called “penalty assessments” which can reach upwards of $3,000. This also does not include the court mandated sanctions associated with a DUI conviction.
Your license will not be automatically suspended
When you receive your first DUI, it is accompanied with an automatic suspension of your license by the Department of Motor Vehicles. In the event that the Defendant refused to comply with a blood, or breathe test, as requested by the arresting officer, or the Defendant was underage at the time, they will face an automatic one year suspension as well. If you plead to a wet reckless, you will be able to keep your license.
In California, the wet reckless plea does not trigger the automatic license suspension like a DUI charge does. As mentioned above, refusal of a breath test carries a mandatory suspension; this becomes moot if you accept the plea deal for a wet reckless. This does not mean that you won’t lose your license; it just means that it is not automatic. You can still lose your license if you don’t succeed at your DMV hearing. For more information on the DMV hearing see 10 steps of a California DUI.
You may not have to attend a mandated alcohol treatment, or education, program.
If you are convicted of your first DUI in California, you will be obligated to finish a minimum of 12 weeks in an alcohol treatment, or education, program. If you plead to a wet reckless, you might be forced to attend a 6 week program, or you might avoid the classes completely. Pursuant to a 2009 piece of legislation, someone who has pled to a wet reckless, and also has another DUI or wet reckless within the past 10 years, will be obligated to participate in a 9 month program. If you are convicted of a second DUI within 10 years, after receiving a wet reckless, you may be forced to attend a program for between 18 months and 30 months.
Disadvantages of a Wet Reckless
In the vast majority of circumstances, pleading out to a wet reckless is very beneficial to someone facing charges of a DUI. However, it is not always a good thing to take the plea deal; there can be substantial drawbacks. For example, if you have had a DUI conviction in the past decade, the wet reckless will be a second DUI and will be pursued as such. Additionally, a wet reckless won’t insulate you from the increase in your insurance rates.
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A DUI can have a profound impact on your life; competent counsel on your side can mean the difference between a life altering event, and a minor inconvenience.
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