Being arrested for a DUI/OUI in Connecticut carries significant negative consequences. A first-time conviction alone can lead to a maximum jail sentence of six months (with a mandatory minimum of two days), a fine of up to $1,000, and a minimum six-month suspension of your driver’s license. Moreover, it results in a permanent criminal record, creating obstacles in securing employment, applying to colleges, finding housing, and seizing life’s opportunities.
Fortunately, it may be possible to negotiate a DUI charge down to a ‘wet reckless’ offense. In this blog, the DUI defense attorneys at The Sills Law Firm explain how you can reduce your DUI charges in CT and how an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help.
What is Wet Reckless?
In Connecticut, those charged with driving under the influence have the option to negotiate a plea bargain for a reduced charge. In cases where a DUI charge is reduced to reckless driving, it is commonly referred to as a “wet reckless.”
People who are convicted of reckless driving in Connecticut typically operate a vehicle in one of the following ways:
- In a way that poses a significant risk to others and with awareness of that risk.
- At a speed that jeopardizes the life of another individual.
- Traveling at a speed exceeding 85 miles per hour.
The consequences of a reckless driving conviction vary depending on the circumstances, but the potential penalties include:
- First offense: A first-offense reckless driving is a class D misdemeanor. Those found guilty may face a jail term of up to 30 days and/or fines ranging from $100 to $300. Additionally, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles may impose a license suspension for a period of 30 to 90 days.
- Repeat offense: A second or subsequent reckless driving conviction is a class A misdemeanor. This carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and/or fines of up to $600. The driver is also subject to a license suspension of at least 90 days.
The fines are doubled for any reckless driving offense within a construction zone.
These penalties are considerably milder than those associated with a first-time DUI conviction, making wet reckless a preferred alternative when case dismissal is not an option.
When Can DUI Charges Be Reduced to Wet Reckless?
If you’ve been arrested for DUI, your criminal defense attorney may explore the possibility of obtaining a wet reckless charge instead. Some factors that could contribute to this outcome include:
- You’ve Never Been Arrested for DUI Before: If this is your first DUI charge, your attorney may negotiate for a wet reckless charge as a reduced alternative.
- Your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC): If your BAC test results are at or near the legal limit, your attorney can argue that your impairment level is not excessive and advocate for a wet reckless charge.
- Legality of the Traffic Stop: If there are concerns regarding the legality of the traffic stop that led to your arrest, your attorney can challenge the basis of the stop and seek a reduced charge.
- Field Sobriety Test Issues: Your attorney can question the reliability or administration of field sobriety tests and use any discrepancies or weaknesses to negotiate for a wet reckless charge.
- Weaknesses in the Prosecution’s Case: If there are other weaknesses in the evidence against you, such as inconsistent witness statements or lack of conclusive evidence, your attorney can leverage these weaknesses to pursue a wet reckless charge.
Your lawyer can also pursue a plea deal for a reduced sentence. For instance, if your attorney anticipates that your sentence would fall within the lower end of the penalty range, they can request a plea deal to help you avoid the maximum penalties.
Are There Other Ways to Reduce Your DUI Sentence?
Yes, there are other ways to reduce your penalties in a DUI case. It is important to note that your options will depend on various factors, including the specific circumstances of your arrest, any prior convictions, and the strength of the evidence against you.
Here are some potential strategies to reduce your DUI sentence:
- Challenging the Evidence: Your attorney can carefully examine the evidence against you, including police reports, breathalyzer or blood test results, and field sobriety tests. If there are inconsistencies or weaknesses in the evidence, your lawyer can challenge them, which may weaken the prosecution’s case.
- Procedural Defenses: Your attorney can examine whether law enforcement followed proper protocols during your arrest, such as conducting a lawful traffic stop and adhering to the correct procedures for administering sobriety tests. Any violations of your constitutional rights or procedural errors may provide grounds for reducing or dismissing charges.
- Mitigating Circumstances: Your attorney can present mitigating factors to the court, such as evidence of good character, completion of alcohol education programs or treatment, lack of a prior criminal record, or other factors that demonstrate your commitment to addressing the issue responsibly. These factors can be influential in securing a more lenient sentence.
- Expert Witnesses: Depending on the specifics of your case, your attorney may enlist the help of expert witnesses, such as forensic toxicologists or accident reconstruction specialists, to challenge the prosecution’s evidence or provide alternative explanations for the events leading to your arrest.
- Pretrial Diversion Programs: In certain cases, Connecticut offers pretrial diversion programs, such as the Impaired Driving Intervention Program (IDIP), which can result in the dismissal of charges upon successful completion of the program. Your attorney can explore eligibility for these programs and advocate for your participation.
It is important to consult with a trusted DUI lawyer in Connecticut to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case and develop an effective defense strategy tailored to your specific situation. They can guide you through the legal process, provide personalized advice, and work to achieve the best possible outcome, which may include reducing your DUI sentence.
When Should You Contact a DUI Lawyer?
You should contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. Acting swiftly is important for several reasons:
- Preserving Evidence: Time is crucial when it comes to preserving evidence in DUI cases. Witnesses’ memories may fade, surveillance footage may be erased, and important evidence can be lost or compromised. By contacting an attorney promptly, they can take immediate steps to gather and preserve evidence crucial to your defense.
- Protection of Your Rights: A DUI attorney will ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process. They will guide you on what to say and do, preventing you from inadvertently incriminating yourself or providing statements that could be used against you later. Having legal representation from the beginning helps safeguard your constitutional rights.
- Strategic Defense Planning: The early stages of a DUI case involve critical decisions that can significantly impact its outcome. When you consult with a DUI attorney early on, they can analyze the details of your arrest, evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case, and develop a strategic defense plan tailored to your specific circumstances.
- Navigating Administrative Processes: In Connecticut, a DUI charge triggers an administrative process that can lead to the suspension of your driver’s license. Seeking legal representation promptly allows your attorney to request a DMV hearing within the required timeframe, increasing your chances of retaining your driving privileges.
- Managing Deadlines and Paperwork: DUI cases involve various deadlines and paperwork that must be filed correctly and within specific timeframes. A DUI attorney will ensure that all necessary paperwork is completed accurately and submitted on time, preventing potential delays or complications in your case.
Is It Possible to Get Your Case Dismissed?
Yes, it is possible to get your DUI case dismissed in certain circumstances. However, it is important to note that each case is unique, and the outcome will depend on various factors, including the specific details of your arrest and the evidence against you. While nothing is guaranteed, there are several potential avenues to pursue dismissal:
- Lack of Probable Cause: If law enforcement did not have a valid reason (probable cause) to stop your vehicle or arrest you for DUI, it may be possible to challenge the legality of the traffic stop or arrest. If a court determines that your rights were violated, the evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful stop or arrest may be suppressed, which can weaken the prosecution’s case and potentially lead to dismissal.
- Chain of Custody Issues: Proper handling and documentation of evidence, including blood samples, are essential in DUI cases. If there are concerns about the chain of custody, such as improper storage, handling, or documentation, it can cast doubt on the integrity and reliability of the evidence, potentially leading to a case dismissal.
- Constitutional Violations: If your constitutional rights were violated during your arrest or any other stage of the legal process, such as an unlawful search or seizure, it may be possible to challenge the admissibility of evidence obtained as a result. If the court determines that your rights were infringed upon, it could lead to the dismissal of the case.
- Insufficient Evidence: The prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the evidence against you is weak, lacks credibility, or is insufficient to establish your guilt, it may be possible to argue for dismissal based on a lack of evidence.
Questions? Speak to a Connecticut DUI Defense Lawyer Today
Facing a DUI charge in Connecticut can be a daunting and life-altering experience. However, it’s essential to remember that there are potential avenues for reducing the severity of your sentence. By working closely with an experienced DUI attorney, you can explore strategies such as a wet reckless charge or pretrial diversion programs.
At The Sills Law Firm, our Connecticut criminal defense attorneys can assess your case, determine your available legal options, and develop a strong defense strategy to obtain the most favorable outcome. With more than 20+ years of collective legal experience, we understand what it takes to either get your entire case dismissed or your charges and/or penalties reduced.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Connecticut, schedule a free consultation by contacting us today. Remember- proactive and strategic legal representation can greatly reduce the impact of DUI charges and pave the way for a brighter future. To learn more, call to speak with our experienced and skilled legal team today.