Pleading Down to “Wet Reckless?” A Parent’s Guide to DWI Alternatives

by StewartTAnn on August 26, 2013

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A conviction for driving under the influence can negatively impact an individual’s life in many different ways. The first conviction establishes a criminal record as well as a negative driving record, which can result in incarceration, fines, and mandatory enrollment in a certified alcohol abuse program.
When a conviction happens to an individual under 18 years of age, the parents may have some additional options with respect to adjudicating the conviction and expunging the record from public view. For NH DWI arrests, the state will maintain the record, but the record can be sealed. Additionally, the charge can be reduced from DWI to a “wet reckless” plea agreement in some cases.
Defining “Wet Reckless”
The legal intoxication level for the state to charge an individual with driving under the influence is a .08 blood alcohol content reading for adults. Wet reckless driving charges are applied between the .05 and .079 BAC levels. All prosecutors have the authority to investigate an arrest and make a charge adjustment by one level downward in appropriate cases. A BAC reading over .08 may be problematic, but an effective DWI attorney may be able to craft a case presentation that will encourage the prosecutor to reduce the charge by one level. An aggravated charge that involves a BAC of .14 or greater may not be eligible for a wet reckless charge reduction. 
Negotiating Charges
The level of intoxication necessary for a DWI charge for a driver under twenty-one years of age is .02 in New Hampshire, so the rules for prosecuting under-age intoxicated driving are stricter. However, this can be an advantage for the negotiating position of the parents because it is much easier to plea bargain for a wet reckless with this case particular, as the actual level necessary for wet reckless for an adult is .05.
If there are no extenuating circumstances, then the reduction to wet reckless means that the case is not prosecuted as a DWI. This reduction is significant because any subsequent DWI charges will be addressed as a first charge. It is important to understand that any other charges for illegal possession or distributing alcohol to other minors will probably still apply. The prosecutor will want some type of concession in this plea agreement.
Expunging the Arrest Record
The process of expunging a DWI arrest for an under-age defendant can be much easier than an adult. Criminal court charges do not automatically get sealed for under-age defendants. The DWI attorney must present the expungement petition after the case penalties have been completed, but judges are normally acceptable to expunging the record of a defendant who is under-age. This is a common record sealing, and it wipes the record from public view as though it never occurred.
The state can still view the record for its purposes, but a reduction to wet reckless means the case is not being adjudicated as a drunk driving charge. This can help keep insurance rates at a similar level, along with minimizing the driving privileges suspension period and reducing fines. However, each case must qualify by the rules of expungement for the state.  The mission of the state in reducing a DWI charge is primarily to stop pattern behavior early. You can count on the fact that the court takes the charge seriously; it is not very cooperative for multiple offenders and penalties are steeper. But, the availability of extra options for the parents can help them address the situation within the family and put pressure on their children to take the matter very seriously.
Teresa Stewart writes DWI options for parents who want to protect their children’s futures. NH DWI attorneys Tenn And Tenn, P.A. will provide valuable information about DUI proceedings, and client’s rights to fight questionable charges. They will compile a persuasive case to get, if not a dismissal, a more favorable outcome.


Principal at TasCo
Ex-corporate grunt. Free-lance writer and author. Currently finding ways to shake off ego and mediocrity.

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  • Zach Spanier

    Violent crimes are some of the most heavily prosecuted criminal cases in Arizona. Unfortunately, it is also possible for the wrong person to be convicted and given overly harsh criminal sentences. Many people just expect that things will work out if they don’t think they did anything wrong. See reference

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