What Is Wet Reckless Driving and How Is it Different than DWI?
“Wet reckless” is a nickname in Virginia for a case involving alcohol-related reckless driving. Sometimes DWI offenders might be able to get a plea agreement for a wet reckless conviction rather than a DWI. Often, the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is close to the 0.08 percent legal limit, but not always. Ordinarily, the prosecutor must agree to the plea deal, where the defendant can plead no contest or guilty to an amended charge of reckless driving under Virginia Code § 46.2-852. The deal will usually require that the defendant complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) and his or her license will be restricted for up to six months (DWI convictions require 12 months of restricted license).
The Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program
The Commission on VASAP has a mission to decrease the number of car accidents related to impaired driving. There are 24 local programs that provide services to individuals in the Commonwealth of Virginia. These services aim to change driver behavior with various processes and strategies.
Persons convicted of wet reckless driving may be required to enter one of the available programs. If the judge orders the program as part of a sentence, a defendant must enroll with a provider in the jurisdiction where he is convicted but can transfer to where he or she lives.
The VASAP involves going through the process below:
- Intake – One must complete classes as part of the program. A case manager will determine the number of hours required. They will also evaluate the participant to determine whether he should complete extra alcohol and drug abuse counseling. If a restricted license is granted, an ignition interlock device must be installed by an approved provider.
- Classes – Everyone in the VASAP program must attend two-hour-long sessions once each week for at least ten weeks. These classes seek to educate people on alcohol dependency and ways to change behavior.
- Alcohol and drug testing – One might be subject to drug and alcohol tests while taking a VASAP course.
- Probation – After completing the mandatory classes successfully, VASAP will continue to monitor the participant’s record to ensure that no new offenses or interlock violations have occurred.
If one violates any of the conditions of ASAP, the court could revoke any suspended jail sentence.
Differences Between Wet Reckless and DUI
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-266, driving while intoxicated occurs when a person drives or operates any motor vehicle while:
- Having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher;
- Under the influence of alcohol;
- Under the influence of a narcotic drug or self-administered drug or intoxicant of any nature, or a combination of drugs impairing the ability to drive or operate a motor vehicle;
- Under the combined influence of any drug or alcohol impairing the ability to drive or operate a motor vehicle; or
- Having a blood concentration equal to or greater than 0.02 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood, 0.1 milligrams of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine per liter of blood, 0.1 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood, or 0.01 milligrams of phencyclidine per liter of blood.
Virginia Code § 46.2-852 defines reckless driving as when a person drives a vehicle:
- In a manner or at a speed that can endanger limb, life, or property of any person; or
- On any highway recklessly.
Both DWI and reckless driving convictions remain on driving records for 11 years and carry 6 demerit points with the Virginia DMV. However, wet reckless driving is considered less severe than a conviction for DWI because it does not show up on the driving record specifically as an alcohol-related offense, the license suspension is shorter (by at least half), and reckless driving is not a prior offense for enhancement purposes if a later DWI is charged.
If you were charged with DWI in Fairfax, VA, and want to learn more about your options for a reduced charge of wet reckless driving, do not hesitate to contact Whitestone Young, PC. We could defend you in your case and negotiate for a plea deal so you can face a lesser sentence. Call us for your free consultation.