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What is a Wet Reckless Charge in Illinois?

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges for driving under the influence in the state of Illinois, you may have questions about wet reckless charges. What exactly does that phrase mean? What's the difference between a reckless conviction and a DUI conviction? What is the criminal penalty? What are the collateral consequences? At DUI Lawyers 24/7, we're here to answer all of your questions. 

What is a Wet Reckless Charge?

A "wet" reckless charge is a type of plea bargain for someone charged with a DUI. A plea bargain, or plea deal, is an agreement in criminal law proceedings where the prosecutor offers a lesser offense or lesser consequences in exchange for a guilty plea. This can benefit the defendant by avoiding a serious conviction, hefty fines, and severe penalties. It also benefits the prosecutor and the defendant by saving time, money, and court resources by avoiding trial.

A wet reckless plea agreement is when someone charged with a DUI pleads guilty to the lesser charge of reckless driving. The term "wet" is an informal way of noting that drugs or alcohol were involved in the scenario. This type of plea deal is not available in every state but is practiced in the state of Illinois. 

People usually accept a wet reckless plea deal because it often carries less harsh penalties, even though it still affects their driving record. The plea bargain must be offered by the prosecutor and is usually reserved for cases involving low Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) or little evidence against the driver.

When Are You Eligible for a Wet Reckless Plea Deal in an Illinois DUI Case?

As mentioned before, this type of plea agreement is most often offered in DUI cases that involve a low blood alcohol content level or do not have a ton of evidence. It can also be offered to a first-time offender or an individual with a clean driving record. Because of these factors, it is not always recommended to take the plea agreement.

If you are a first-time DUI offender with no criminal record and you had a low BAC, a criminal defense attorney may advise you to fight the original charge in order to have it completely dismissed and avoid a conviction of any kind. A drunk driving lawyer will be able to advise you on your legal options for your specific case. 

Reckless Driving Penalties Compared to DUI Penalties

These two criminal convictions share many of the same criminal penalties but differ in their maximum sentence. Not only can a DUI involve a harsher sentence, but other societal factors make it the less desirable offense.

The main reason people accept a reckless driving charge is that it does not require an automatic license suspension. A conviction for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol carries a mandatory court-ordered license suspension of one year. For many, the guarantee of maintaining driving privileges is enough of a benefit to not challenge the criminal offense in court. 

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The state of Illinois also offers something called court supervision for DUI, which prevents the DUI from being on your record. However, while under supervision, any violation can result in full sentencing and a conviction. That conviction includes the mandatory suspension of driving privileges, potential jail time, and costly fines. Also, a person is only allowed one court supervision in their lifetime for either reckless driving or DUI in the state of Illinois. This means accepting a reckless driving conviction may be preferable to court supervision in order to retain that right for the future. 

The third major difference in potential penalties between a DUI and a reckless driving offense is how they affect your driving record. A DUI conviction is a filthy stain on your criminal record. Not only can it cost you your current employment, but it also can limit future job prospects and housing opportunities. People tend not to judge a reckless driving conviction as harshly. Furthermore, a DUI conviction cannot be expunged or sealed from your driving record while a reckless driving charge can after a certain period of time. 

Both a wet reckless conviction and a DUI conviction are classified as Class A misdemeanor offenses. Potential penalties include up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2500, and possibly mandatory attendance in an alcohol education program. If any physical injuries were caused due to the incident, a person may be facing a Class 4 Felony criminal offense. A Class 4 felony can carry consequences of 1-3 years in jail, a fine of up to $25,000, and mandatory suspension of license. 

Does a Wet Reckless Conviction Affect Insurance?

The short answer is yes. Any mark on the driving record can lead to an auto insurance rate increase. This is just one of the many consequences of traffic violations. Depending on the insurance company, the effects usually last between 1-3 years. On average, insurance policy rates increase by 91% due to reckless offenses. This is one of the many reasons to enlist the services of a criminal defense lawyer. 

When considering the impacts of a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol, you may decide that a wet reckless conviction is the best option for you. No matter the case, it is best to consult with a defense attorney to lessen harsh consequences like mandatory jail time, criminal fines, loss of driving privileges, and alcohol education classes. Speak to an experienced traffic defense lawyer at DUI Lawyers 24/7 to take action on your traffic charges today. 

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