What Is A Wet Reckless Charge in Virginia?

wet recklessIf you’re charged with Virginia DUI or DWI you may have seen a term thrown around called “wet reckless.” What is that?
“Wet reckless” is a slang term that’s used to describe an outcome for a DUI or DWI charge in Virginia.

In some cases when you’re charged with DUI or DWI in Virginia, the prosecutor may be willing to amend the charge to a reckless driving conviction instead of being found guilty of a DWI.

The reason it’s called a wet reckless, however, is because you’re going to have a number of requirements that aren’t normally associated with an average reckless driving conviction.

A wet reckless will depend upon the system and court you’re in; however, typically it requires loss of your license, a fine, perhaps some jail time, and it usually requires attendance at VASAP.

All of those pieces together typically form an average “wet reckless” disposition.

The other way you can end up with a wet reckless outcome is if you are just charged with reckless driving, but it’s an alcohol-related case.

Sometimes the judge or the prosecutor might find it appropriate to order you to go to VASAP as part of the punishment for your reckless driving conviction.

Theymight not be able to prove a DWI; however, they may be concerned about a possible alcohol issue and could order VASAP to help address that.

One of the important things to note, though, is that wet reckless is not available in all localities. It’s something that will definitely depend upon the specific facts and circumstances of your case, along with the prosecutor and judge who are involved.

Wet Reckless vs. Wet and Reckless Charge

Some people who are not familiar with the court system might use the term “wet and reckless” to describe a DWI that is reduced to reckless driving.

But that’s not how it’s written by lawyers and the folks inside the criminal justice system.

We simply call it “wet reckless.” I might ask the prosecutor, “Would you consider reducing this DWI to a wet reckless?”

It’s quick shorthand to refer to the idea that we are willing to plead and have some DWI-type punishments, but we want to avoid the DWI conviction.

How a Wet Reckless Charge in Virginia Benefits You in the Long Run

You may not realize it, but the consequences of a DWI conviction can have a substantial impact on your life. Today, we’ll discuss the benefits of a plea to a reduced charge of wet reckless to avoid a DUI conviction.

Wet and reckless driving and DWI are both Class 1 misdemeanors in Virginia. Under Virginia’s criminal sentencing law, a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction carries up to 12 months in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,500.

Generally speaking, there are no mandatory jail sentences associated with a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction. A conviction for reckless driving—even wet reckless—carries no mandatory jail time as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Instead, the judge has the freedom to sentence a person convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor to probation rather than jail. So, if you have no prior record, you are a good candidate for probation instead of going to jail.

Although jail time is not mandatory for most first-time cases, it is still a possible sentence the court could impose. And jail becomes mandatory for a DWI conviction if your high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is particularly high.

Any person whose BAC at the time of the arrest was between 0.15% and 0.20% must serve at least five days in jail. This minimum-mandatory sentence increases to 10 days if the BAC exceeds 0.20%.

Also, Section 18.2-270 of the Code of Virginia states that a conviction for a first offense DWI carries a mandatory fine of $250.

As you can see, a wet reckless driving conviction can keep you from serving mandatory jail time. There are other benefits to a plea to a charge of wet reckless in Virginia as well.

A Wet Reckless Plea Could Help You Avoid Mandatory DWI Penalties

A DWI conviction in Virginia can come back to haunt you in the future.

If you have a second DUI conviction within five years of your first conviction, the punishment is required to include at least 20 days of mandatory minimum jail time. The fine will increase with your second conviction as well.

A second conviction between 5 – 10 years from your first carries a $500 fine and between one month and one year in jail. The law requires that you serve 10 days of jail.

The court must add additional time to your jail sentence for a second conviction if your BAC was at least 0.15%. The court must add 10 days of minimum-mandatory jail time to your sentence if your chemical test results fall between 0.15% and 0.20%.

The judge has to add 20 days of minimum-mandatory jail time if your BAC was 0.20% or above. Additionally, you have to pay a minimum fine of $500.

You may notice that these enhanced penalties apply at any time during the 10-year window after your first DWI conviction.

A third DUI conviction within 10 years is a Class 6 felony. You will have to serve at least 90 days of minimum-mandatory jail time if the third conviction falls within the 10-year timeframe.

However, you must go to jail for a mandatory minimum of six months if all three convictions occur within the first five years. A Class 6 felony carries between one and five years in prison or jail for no more than 12 months.

Under either punishment, the judge could assess a $2,500 fine.

Other Problems You May Avoid with a Wet Reckless Plea in VA

A reckless driving conviction does not automatically revoke your driver’s license. A first-offense DWI conviction results in a one-year license suspension, according to the Virginia DMV.

Additionally, the license suspension for refusing the breathalyzer, which is one year, and the revocation period for a conviction must run consecutively, not concurrently—so if you refused, you might be looking at a two-year license revocation.

The good news is that the law allows you to apply for a restricted license after serving 30 days of suspension.

Additionally, you must attend a VASAP class after a DUI conviction before applying for license reinstatement. You normally have to attend classes for 10 weeks, with a total of 20 hours minimum.

Additionally, you may have to attend alcohol treatment if your probation officer determines that treatment is necessary. You should be aware that you must pay for this program out of your pocket.

You will need to install an ignition interlocking system in your primary vehicle at your expense as well after a DWI conviction.

The judge has to order you to install an ignition interlock system in order to obtain a restricted license to drive for work.

If you are found guilty of a second offense DWI, DMV will require an ignition interlock to reinstate your license.

A judge could order you not to drive or to surrender your license after a wet reckless plea, but that is not a mandatory term of probation unless the judge orders it.

Contact Our Virginia DUI Defense Lawyers Today

If you’re charged with Virginia DUI or DWI, our DUI defense lawyers in Virginia can help you! You can request a copy of our free book “How to Overcome Virginia DUI or DWI.”

Contact Flusche & Fitzgerald to schedule your free consultation so we can discuss whether or not a wet reckless outcome might be in the cards for you.

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then, I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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