Under California law, driving under the influence of alcohol is a severe crime that could attract life-changing repercussions. Your blood alcohol content and behavior at the time of arrest will determine the charges you face. You should seek the services of a skilled DUI attorney if the prosecutor accuses you of DUI and you are hoping for a reduction of your charges to a dry reckless. Your attorney can work with the prosecutor to reduce your charges to dry reckless under VC 23103. At the California Criminal Lawyer Group, we have a team of attorneys with extensive experience and knowledge in defending DUI lawsuits in Anaheim, which can help you fight your charges.
Dry Reckless Explained
According to VC 23103, reckless driving, or dry reckless, involves driving a vehicle with a wanton disregard for other people’s safety. Generally, the prosecutor can convict you of reckless driving based on your behavior, but a dry reckless crime usually arises as a plea bargain for drunk driving lawsuits. In most instances, motorists accused of DUI often negotiate with prosecutors to reduce their charges to a dry reckless. In a dry reckless charge, drug or alcohol issues do not form part of your lawsuit. You could therefore avoid most penalties and disabilities related to DUI or wet reckless charges.
Most prosecutors charge dry reckless as a misdemeanor under VC 23103. Usually, when the prosecutor accuses you of dry reckless, this statute requires that he/she prove the following elements:
- First, you drove a car off a street parking facility or on the highway.
- You drove the vehicle willfully with a wanton disregard for other people’s safety.
The prosecutor could consider your actions as wanton disregard for other people's safety if you knew that your actions presented an unjustifiable risk of danger, yet you ignored the threat. However, under VC 23103, a mere intention to injure someone else cannot secure you a conviction.
Dry reckless as a plea deal for DUI or as an independent charge can lead to the following penalties:
- Fines of between $145 and $1,000.
- A jail term of 5 days to 90 days.
The judge could enhance your penalties if you inflict injury on someone else. For example, if you cause minor injuries to someone else, your penalties could be as follows:
- A fine that does not exceed $1,000.
- A jail term of 30 to 90 days in a county jail.
If you cause severe injuries to someone else, the prosecutor could charge you with a felony, and you could serve a jail term that does not exceed three years in state prison.
Dry Reckless As A Plea Bargain
A plea bargain is not automatic when the prosecutor charges you with a DUI. You need to negotiate with the prosecutor to have a conviction that serves your best interests. The prosecutor could easily offer you a wet reckless plea bargain if the DUI lawsuit weakens. However, you must also be aware that if the prosecutor offers you a plea bargain without much negotiation, it does not serve your best interests.
You need to hire a skilled DUI attorney when negotiating a plea bargain like dry reckless. A competent attorney has the skill to gain an advantage and substantial evidence to prove the following:
- The police had no probable cause to stop or arrest you for DUI.
- Therefore, the police violated your constitutional rights.
- Your BAC results were false or inaccurate.
While negotiating for a plea bargain, your attorney needs a firm understanding of the DUI statutes to create gaps and weaken the prosecutor’s lawsuit. The advantages of a dry reckless plea bargain include the following:
No Mandatory Loss Of Your Driving Privileges
The judge could impose harsh penalties after your conviction. However, suspending your driving privileges is the most life-changing repercussion of a DUI charge. You could lose your driving privileges in two forms as follows:
- The Department of Motor Vehicle could suspend your driving privileges when they learn of your DUI arrest.
- The judge could suspend your driving privileges after finding you guilty of the alleged DUI crime.
If it is your first DUI offense, you could lose your driving privileges for a period that does not exceed six months. If you have a prior drunk driving or wet reckless charge, the license suspension could last longer. However, you can continue driving after a suspension of your driver’s license by doing the following:
- Obtaining a restricted license.
- Installing an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car.
Typically, limiting your driving privileges can substantially influence your livelihood negatively. For example, a restricted license can only allow you to attend DUI classes, school, and work.
However, the court will not suspend your driving privileges if you enter a dry reckless plea bargain in a VC 23103 charge. However, the dry reckless crime will attract two additional points on your driving record. Increasing the points on your driving record could lead to a negligent driver status. The "negligent driver" status is also a recipe for driver’s license suspension.
Once the judge reduces your DUI case to "dry reckless," the court-imposed license suspension will be dropped. However, you must still attend a DMV hearing to challenge the administrative suspension of your driving privileges. Unlike a DUI criminal lawsuit, the DMV hearing has a lesser burden of proof. You should seek the services of an experienced DUI attorney to prevail in the hearing and avoid suspension.
The Probation Term Is Shorter
The judge could sometimes impose probation for a dry reckless and DUI. The dry reckless plea bargain probation usually takes one to two years, and DUI probation takes a period that does not exceed five years. The advantage of serving a shorter probation term is that you will be tied to the court system for a shorter period. You can also complete your probation quickly and seek an expungement from the court.
You Can Attend a DUI School For a Short Period or Avoid it Completely
Once the court convicts you of DUI, you must enroll in DUI classes. Your DUI classes could take three to eighteen months if you are a first-time offender. You do not need to attend DUI classes if the court convicts you of a dry reckless crime as a plea bargain. However, when negotiating for a plea bargain, the prosecutor could make it mandatory for you to enroll in a six-week program as a requirement for the plea bargain.
No Installation Of Ignition Interlock Device In Your Car
When the court convicts you of DUI, it could order you to install an IID in your car before you continue driving it. Generally, an IID is installed on the car’s dashboard and serves as a miniature breathalyzer. You must seek the services of an IID expert if the court orders you to install an IID.
You must provide an alcohol-free breath sample whenever you start your car's engine. If you fail to provide an alcohol-free breath, your car engine will not start. In addition, your efforts to disconnect the IID or records will be detected. The IID installation period will depend on the number of DUI crimes you are convicted of. If it is your first offense, you could be required to install the ignition interlock device for a period that does not exceed six months after your charge.
Installing an IID in your car could cost $75 to $100. The court could also order you to pay the maintenance fee for the time the device will take up in your car. However, if the judge accepts your plea bargain for a dry reckless, it will not be mandatory for you to install an IID in your vehicle. You could therefore continue to drive your car even after your conviction.
The legal punishment for DUI and dry reckless includes fines, jail terms, or both. If the prosecutor charges you with DUI, you could face a fine that does not exceed $3,000 plus the penalty assessments. The typical fine for a dry reckless conviction is $390. You will therefore incur lower fines if you secure a dry reckless plea bargain.
Shorter Jail Term
According to VC 23103, a dry reckless plea bargain could lead to a jail term that does not exceed 90 days in county jail. On the other hand, for a conviction under VC 23152, you could face a jail term that does not exceed six months if you are a first-time DUI offender. The jail term could also increase to one year for subsequent crimes. You could end up not spending any time in jail for your dry reckless conviction if the court grants you misdemeanor probation.
If you violate the probation terms, the court could revoke the probation and recommend a jail term. You could violate the probation by failing to adhere to its terms. One of the most severe consequences of violating probation is the reinstatement of the maximum jail term. In the case of a dry reckless conviction, your jail term cannot exceed 90 days.
You could also experience the advantage of a shorter jail term when the police arrest you for another DUI crime. This is because a dry reckless conviction does not count as a DUI prior.
Comparing Dry Reckless And Wet Reckless
Most prosecutors could reduce a DUI conviction to a dry or wet reckless crime. The advantages that a dry reckless has over a wet reckless include the following:
Dry Reckless Is Not A Priorable Crime
Typically, a charge of drunk driving is a priorable crime. A priorable offense is an offense whose prior charges influence prosecution and charges for subsequent offenses. For example, if the prosecutor convicts you of a DUI within ten years of another DUI, he/she will convict you of a second crime, leading to an extended jail term and a stiffer license suspension. However, if the court accepts your dry reckless plea bargain, the charge will not influence your subsequent DUI arrests and charges. Usually, the court will impose a conviction that it deems appropriate for your dry reckless plea bargain.
A Dry Reckless Has Less Influence On Insurance Premiums
A dry reckless conviction has less influence on your insurance premiums. This is because motor insurance companies do not recognize a dry reckless charge as a DUI crime as they would a wet reckless charge.
On the other hand, a wet reckless crime involves alcohol. Generally, it is reckless driving, but the jury or judge will add a notation to your record showing that it was caused by drugs or alcohol.
A wet reckless is a typical conviction reduction in most DUI lawsuits, and some of its advantages are similar to those of a dry reckless offense. Some of the benefits include the following:
- No suspension of your driving privileges.
- There is a reduced stigma.
However, a wet reckless offense is a priorable charge. It often counts as a DUI for subsequent crimes committed at any time within ten years of the first crime. Most motor vehicle insurance companies recognize a wet reckless charge as a DUI crime. Your insurance company could therefore cancel your policy when you go for a renewal. Your insurance company could also increase your premiums. The prosecution, in most instances, will grant a wet reckless conviction as a plea bargain, but the law allows you to negotiate down to a dry reckless.
The Claims You Could Make While Pursuing A Dry Reckless Plea Bargain
Sometimes, the prosecutor could accuse you of DUI. The law allows you to negotiate to reduce your conviction to a dry reckless. You can make several claims to persuade the prosecutor to reduce your conviction, including:
Residual Mouth Alcohol
The breathalyzer device could fail to differentiate alcoholic drinks from other products like mouthwash containing alcohol. You can outline that the residual mouth alcohol from mouthwash or certain foods cause your BAC levels to exceed the allowable limit. You could also present other explanations connected with your high blood alcohol concentration.
Faulty Breathalyzer Device
The law demands that breathalyzer devices undergo regular calibration and maintenance. Therefore, you can allege that your BAC breath test results were faulty because of a faulty breathalyzer device.
Reckless Driving Is Not Equal To A DUI
The law enforcers could sometimes arrest you for DUI based on your behavior while driving. The law enforcers consider factors including failure to follow basic traffic rules like a dangerous change of lanes and swerving. In your effort to pursue a dry reckless plea bargain, you could allege that your reckless driving was not associated with the consumption of alcohol or drugs.
Rising Blood Alcohol Content
The most reliable evidence in a DUI lawsuit is the blood test results. The blood test is usually carried out at the station. Usually, when the police arrest you, they spend a long time investigating you. The investigations could include conducting breath tests, field sobriety tests, and physical observations. Unfortunately, your BAC will not stop rising when you stop taking alcohol. You can claim that your BAC was within the normal range at the time of driving and only increased later. In this case, you can prove that you did not operate a vehicle with elevated BAC levels.
Inaccurate Blood Test
Blood alcohol content results are always used to determine whether you are guilty of reckless driving. You can seek a dry reckless plea bargain if you can manage to create doubt regarding the accuracy of the BAC results. One of the ways to challenge the accuracy of the blood test results is by claiming that the test sample did not have the proper preservatives. After drawing it, the testing officer must preserve your blood sample and wait for chemical testing. A lack of sufficient preservatives could cause your blood sample to produce high-level BAC readings.
Factors That Could Make The Prosecutor Grant A Dry Reckless Plea Bargain
The prosecutor will always try to charge you with the most serious crime that the evidence supports. It is, therefore, challenging for the prosecutor to accept your dry reckless plea bargain. The prosecutor will only accept your dry reckless plea bargain to avoid dropping your charges or if it is in their best interests. The prosecutor could accept this plea in the following situations:
When There Is Weak Evidence
If the prosecutor has weak evidence against your charges, he/she will be compelled to accept your dry reckless plea bargain for your DUI charges. Like other crimes, the law requires the prosecutor to prove some elements of the offense for you to face charges. Therefore, the prosecutor's charges could be weak if there is no sufficient evidence to prove your charges.
If you hire an experienced and skilled DUI attorney, the attorney could contest the prosecutor’s evidence. Some aspects of a case where an attorney could identify weaknesses include the outcome of your blood and breath tests. For example, you could claim that the testing officer failed to preserve your blood sample properly.
Low Blood Alcohol Content Levels
The critical evidence in a DUI case is the BAC results. Under the law, it is a crime for any person to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol content that exceeds the allowable limit. The law allows 0.08% BAC for motorists driving on a standard driver’s license. The more your BAC readings exceed the legal limit, the more likely the prosecutor will charge you with drunk driving.
Generally, negotiations for a plea bargain or DUI defense are usually based on the BAC test outcome. If you can provide substantial evidence that your BAC was below 0.08%, you could have an opportunity to have your charges dropped. However, the prosecutor usually does not allow you to walk away without imposing some penalties on you. Most prosecutors often offer a dry reckless plea bargain. It is generally easier for the prosecutors to prove that you drove recklessly.
When There Is No Probable Cause
You are less likely to face charges for a DUI if the police do not have probable cause for your DUI stop or arrest. Your attorney could assist you in evaluating your arrest, including whether the law enforcers followed the proper procedures. In addition, the court could dismiss your charges if it discovers that the police did not have probable cause to arrest you.
Disadvantages Of Taking A Plea Bargain
A plea bargain always seems like a good idea, considering the possibility of a reduced conviction or jail term. But, unfortunately, not all plea bargains are good for you. Some of the drawbacks to taking a plea bargain include the following:
- You have limited opportunities to appeal the charge if you plead guilty through a plea bargain.
- The prosecutor could fail to show the collateral repercussions of pleading guilty to the conviction, such as points on your driving record.
- You plead guilty to a crime by taking a plea bargain, which is hard for an innocent individual to do.
You can have your record expunged whether you are charged with a DUI or a dry reckless as a conviction reduction. However, a dry reckless crime charge will remain on your DMV record for a period that does not exceed 13 years. This could influence your life negatively, including your ability to seek job opportunities, mainly if your driving history is considered.
You will only qualify for an expungement of your charges if you complete your jail term or probation. You could be eligible for expungement even if you fail to adhere to the conditions of probation. You can pursue an expungement alone or seek the services of a DUI attorney to assist in the process. You will be required to meet the costs involved in the process. The advantages of having your record expunged include the following:
- A potential employer cannot use an expunged charge to deny you employment.
- You do not have to reveal your charge status to the state licensing bodies or employers.
- Employers are not required to request your criminal record unless the job opportunity is conditional.
Unfortunately, an expungement cannot overturn a license suspension or revocation.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
It can be overwhelming to navigate the criminal process for a DUI conviction. You will not only face a possible loss of your driving privileges and a tainted reputation, but your freedom will also be on the line. At the California Criminal Lawyer Group, we understand the confusion and fear associated with a DUI conviction. The good news is that there is a possibility of negotiating for lesser charges, dry reckless. We will dedicate our resources, expertise, and knowledge to assist in fighting your charges in Anaheim, CA. Call us at 714-766-0965 to talk to one of our attorneys.