What is the Difference Between a DWI and a Wet Reckless Charge?

Being arrested for a DWI can present some serious consequences in North Carolina. Although a DWI is not a felony, it is still a serious criminal offense, especially when various aggravating factors are involved. However, with the help of an experienced and diligent Raleigh DWI defense attorney, you may be able to receive a reduced sentence or plea bargain in North Carolina courts.

Wet Reckless Charges in NC | Raleigh DWI Attorney Dewey P. Brinkley

When reducing an offender’s sentence to a less serious crime, the courts may offer a “wet reckless” charge. A wet reckless charge is, essentially, a reduced plea arrangement where the driver pleads to reckless driving with alcohol involved (hence, the “wet reckless” term). If you’ve been charged with a DWI in the Raleigh and Wake County areas, we at the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley will fight for your innocence, but if the evidence is truly stacked against you, we will do everything under North Carolina law for a mitigated sentence.

What is a “Wet Reckless” Charge?

When drinking and driving, the driver is being reckless in his/her actions. A dry reckless charge generally involves excessive speeding or other actions that put other drivers (or the public) at risk. A wet reckless charge, on the other hand, is reckless driving involving alcohol; this charge is more serious than reckless driving but less serious than a DWI charge.

Due to public pressure and strict punishments for driving while intoxicated, prosecutors can be hesitant to offer a plea bargain and a wet reckless charge. In North Carolina courts, however, a wet reckless charge may be an option for first offenders who’s arrest involved several mitigating circumstances, such as:

  • The defendant’s first DWI in North Carolina or any other state
  • The defendant was impaired by alcohol, and not any other substance
  • The defendant’s BAC was 1.0 or under
  • The defendant has a safe driving record
  • The defendant was polite and cooperative with officers

Second Arrest for a DWI in North Carolina

Because a wet reckless charge offers several benefits over a DWI charge, North Carolina courts often include several conditions with the reduced charge. Of course, one condition is to not drink and drive again. If the defendant is arrested again for DWI, then the previous wet reckless charge will count as a prior DWI for sentencing purposes.

Penalties for DWI vs. Penalties for Wet Reckless

DWIs in North Carolina carry fairly severe penalties, even for a first offense. Even a first DWI can carry six months of jail time as well as hefty fines. Furthermore, a DWI stays on the defendant’s criminal record, which could affect current or future job prospects and professional licensing.

As a reduced offense, a wet reckless charge carries several advantages. A wet reckless charge calls for much lighter penalties, and having this charge on your record is certainly less serious. In general, the fines are lower, there is less of a possibility for jail time, and license suspension or revocation is less likely.

Specifically, a DWI is presumptively a Class 1 misdemeanors in North Carolina, while a reckless charge is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Moreover, a DWI puts 12 points on the defendant’s insurance, suspending his/her license for at least a year. A wet reckless is 4 points on the defendant’s insurance and 4 points on his/her license.

Contact the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley Today

The chance of achieving a wet reckless charge may be slim, but it’s nonetheless a possibility. If there is overwhelming evidence proving your guilt in a DWI stop, then you and your attorney should consider a wet reckless charge as a possibile option. To speak with the leading Raleigh NC criminal defense and DWI attorney, call our Raleigh law firm today at (919) 832-0307.

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