|Lawyers.com > Discuss Your Legal Issue > Ask a Lawyer > Criminal Law > <p>I received a DUI a few days ago. I was told that since it was my first offense and that I blew a .10 I could possibly get it dropped to reckless driving. Is this possible and what jail time I would receive?</p>|
Laws and penalties for alcohol-related driving offenses vary from state to state, but the consequences of conviction are serious in all. In addition to suspension of your driver's license, jail and/or probation, fines and community service, you will be required to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation and attend classes or complete a treatment program. If granted a probationary license, it will carry restrictions. Your insurance rates will rise.
These consequences can be minimized in some states by a plea to a lesser charge, such as reckless driving. There are two kinds of reckless driving, often called "wet reckless" and "dry reckless." Wet reckless refers to reckless driving involving alcohol. Dry reckless driving has no alcohol-related component. For example, in California, first time offenders often plea bargain their case to a "wet reckless." This reduces some but not all of the severe consequences of an alcohol-related conviction. And, if another such charge is lodged within ten years, courts treat the wet reckless as a prior DUI conviction. "Dry reckless" plea bargains do not count as a "prior" if a similar offense is charged in the future and alcohol treatment is not required. Many prosecutors will only offer this option if they perceive a significant weakness in proving the original alcohol charge.
In Indiana, where you are from, for first-time offenders with a BAC between 0.08 and 0.15, the offense is a class C misdemeanor. There is no minimum jail requirement but you can be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail and fined. In addition, your driver's license must be suspended for at least 90 days. While the court can suspend execution of the suspension and order a probationary license with limited driving privileges, it will not take effect until your suspension has run 30 days. Also, you will have to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation and you will be required to obtain high risk insurance for three years.
Indiana law allows deferred pleas for DUI/OWI, whereby you don't end up with a permanent record, but as a policy matter, they may not be offered frequently. Indiana does not have a "wet reckless" law like California. Reckless driving in Indiana is a class B misdemeanor with a possible jail sentence of up to 180 days and a fine. If property damage or bodily injury is involved, license suspension can result.
In every state, plea bargain policies are likely to vary from county to county. I recommend you contact an experienced DUI/OWI attorney in the county where your charge is pending, who can advise you as to the likelihood of bargaining your charge to reckless driving or a deferred alcohol charge, and, if allowed, the benefits to you.
Finally, you may have a defense to the alcohol charge, such as a challenge to the BAC testing or the traffic stop. Given the seriousness of an alcohol- related driving conviction, it is highly advisable to seek expert legal advice before pleading guilty to any offense.