Wet Reckless Versus Drunk Driving Charges in Indiana

Criminal Defense
Wet Reckless Versus Drunk Driving Charges in Indiana

May 15, 2018

You may have heard of a “wet reckless,” which refers to an Indiana legal violation where a motorist was driving irresponsibly under circumstances indicating the presence of alcohol. However, if you look up the state statute on reckless driving, you will not find the term wet reckless; in fact, you will not even see any reference to alcohol, driving under the influence, or related topics. This is because a wet reckless is essentially slang for an outcome in a criminal case, one which would normally carry the serious penalties for a conviction of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). There are some benefits for taking this approach if you have been arrested for drunk driving but, because of certain eligibility issues and legal complexities, it is important to discuss your options with an Indiana DUI defense lawyer.

Overview of Wet Reckless Proceedings in Indiana

A wet reckless case is essentially a way of avoiding the harsh consequences of an OWI by entering a plea of guilty on reckless driving charges.

In a sense, your situation does fall under one subsection on the reckless driving law: Having alcohol in your system while driving is recklessly operating a vehicle so as to endanger the safety or property of others. Entering a guilty plea to this charge is the equivalent of a Class B Misdemeanor conviction, which means you face:

  • A possible jail sentence up to 180 days;
  • Fines up to $1,000;
  • Court costs and fees;
  • A driver’s license suspension;
  • Mandatory alcohol or substance abuse courses; and,
  • Other penalties as determined by the court.

Advantages of Wet Reckless Versus OWI

Though both offenses are misdemeanors under Indiana law, there are benefits for a wet reckless charge:

  • If you are charged with drunk driving in the future, it will officially be a first-time offense because your wet reckless does not register as an OWI.
  • For most wet reckless cases, you will not be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle. A judge in an OWI case may order an IID or it may be a condition of getting a hardship license, even for a first-time OWI.
  • Your auto insurance rates may not increase as much for a wet reckless as for a drunk driving conviction, but this depends upon your carrier and many other factors.

Special Considerations for Wet Reckless Cases

One critical point on wet reckless cases is that you are not entitled to this outcome as a right under Indiana law. It is typically only allowed for a first-time OWI charge where there is no property damage or injury to others. Plus, a prosecuting attorney is more likely to agree to your plea where your blood alcohol content is close to the legal limit of .08 percent. The proceedings for a wet reckless are very unofficial, so negotiations require solid knowledge of drunk driving laws in Indiana, court procedural rules, and the nuances of criminal litigation.

Talk to a Fort Wayne Criminal Defense Attorney About Wet Reckless

Pleading to a wet reckless has its benefits, but there are many pitfalls in resolving your drunk driving case through this process. You need an experienced OWI defense lawyer to represent your interests, so trust the attorneys at Bellinger Law Firm with your case. Please contact our office in Fort Wayne, Indiana to schedule a consultation about your legal options.

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