I’ve heard some states reduce DWIs to a lesser charge like reckless driving. Is this a possibility in North Carolina?

You’re being charged with a DWI. It’s a big deal – you’re facing potential jail time and serious fines. Even if it’s your first offense, you’re facing extremely severe penalties. Your insurance costs will skyrocket. Your employer may require you to report any criminal charges, meaning you may lose your job. You’ll also have to report the charge on any future job applications. A DWI may threaten your immigration status and may affect your eligibility for government benefits. Is there anything you can do to mitigate the severity of the consequences?

reckless driving

Wet Reckless

Some state laws allow for reduction of a DWI to a “wet reckless,” which is reckless driving involving alcohol. While still not a great thing to have on your record, a reckless driving charge is significantly less severe than a DWI. Reckless driving is driving “carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others.” N.C.G.S. § 20-140. It’s worth 4 points against your license; 12 points in a 3-year period results in a lose your North Carolina driving privileges. A DWI, on the other hand, means anywhere from a day to 3 years in jail and fines of up to $10,000. Is it possible to reduce a DWI to a wet reckless in North Carolina?

Wet Reckless in North Carolina

Most counties in North Carolina don’t allow for a wet reckless charge. A DWI is a DWI and there’s no two ways about it. In some counties, however, it is possible to get a wet reckless charge. However, the law makes that process extremely difficult and legal precedent makes it very unlikely. If you want to reduce your charge to a wet reckless in North Carolina, you’ll need the help of an experienced attorney.

If you’ve had prior DWI convictions, you won’t be able to get your charge reduced to a wet reckless. If you do manage to have your charge reduced and later get another DWI, your wet reckless will count as your first DWI for sentencing purposes. In other words, if you have a wet reckless and a DWI, you’ll face the penalties assigned to the state has the right to seize and sell your car.

Negotiating a DWI Charge

While it’s very difficult to have your DWI reduced to a less severe charge, you may be able to negotiate around other simultaneous charges. For example, you may be charged with a speeding violation and a reckless driving violation from the same incident as the DWI. The state wants convictions for DWIs more than for other, lesser charges. It’s worried about keeping intoxicated drivers off the streets. So, you may be able to have other charges against you dropped in exchange for pleading guilty to the DWI. Before you plead guilty to any charges, you should consult your attorney.

What should I do if I’ve been charged with DWI?

Whenever you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime, it’s a good idea to write down everything you can remember about the arrest. What did the officers say? Why did they pull you over? Was anyone else in the car? Was anyone else on the road? Did they read you your Miranda Rights? Were they overly forceful? The details of your arrest may give you an opportunity to have your charges thrown out – the police have to follow strict procedures and a mistake may result in lesser charges or no charges at all for you.

The next step is hiring an experienced criminal attorney. If you can’t afford a private attorney, you’ll be represented by a public defender. Your attorney will help you through the process of a DWI case. She’ll get the information she needs to make her case from you and the state. If you’re offered a plea bargain, she’ll help you through that process and make sure you understand the consequences of accepting or denying it.

In all your dealings with the court, remember to be polite. A DWI is a serious offense with serious penalties – it’s in your best interest to stay on the court’s good side.

The Bottom Line

If you’re being charged with a DWI, reach out to one of our an experienced attorney for a free consultation. Remember that DWIs in North Carolina involve a complex sentencing system. The potential sentences cover a wide range of jail time and fines and your penalties can be reduced or increased due to mitigating or aggravating factors. The circumstances surrounding the particular DWI, your driving history, any prescription drugs you take regularly, and other issues can significantly alter your sentence. Your case isn’t over just because you were over the legal limit. We’ll work with you to make the most of your case and minimize any penalties.

dwi north carolina attorney