If you’ve been arrested for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) in Indiana, it’s your first offense, and there are no aggravating factors like injuries, property damage, or a child in your car, you and your DUI lawyer may be able to work with the prosecutor to reduce the charge to reckless driving – or in lawer slang, “wet reckless.”
The term “wet reckless” doesn’t exist in the statutes. It’s just a shorthand term lawyers use to refer to a reckless driving incident in which alcohol was involved, but is being prosecuted as a reckless driving offense rather than as a DUI/OWI case.
Prosecutors may consider allowing you to plead guilty to the lesser wet reckless charge if the following circumstances apply:
- It’s your first offense;
- You blew below, at, or very slightly above the 0.08 blood alcohol level threshold, or got those results in a blood test following your arrest.
- You didn’t do anything stupid like resist arrest
- There was no property damage
- There were no injuries
- There was no child in the car
- Your attorney can show prosecutors they will have a difficult time proving you were impaired at the time you were arrested.
Under Indiana law, a wet reckless conviction is a Class B misdemeanor. Penalties may include:
- Up to 180 days in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Court costs and fees;
- Suspension of your driver’s license suspension;
- Mandatory alcohol or drug safety and awareness classes
- Other penalties as the judge may determine.
While you will still probably draw a fine and an administrative license suspension, a wet reckless conviction rather than an Indiana OWI has several benefits for you:
It allows you to avoid having to install an engine interlock device (IID) on your car.
A reckless driving conviction may not cause your car insurance rates to spike as much as an OWI conviction. In fact, it could make the difference between your insurance company charging you a higher premium or cancelling your coverage altogether.
If you screw up again, and get arrested on another OWI charge, it will be your first OWI case, not your second. That makes a huge difference, because punishments for a second and subsequent OWI offense in Indiana are much, much more severe than a first offense.
Indiana “Wet Reckless” Convictions Cause Fewer Ongoing Problems Than OWIs.
A reckless driving charge also carries much less stigma than an OWI conviction:
- Operating While Intoxicated may make it difficult or impossible to find employment – even if you don’t drive for a living. Many employers will pass you up as soon as they get to your background check just because you have an OWI.
- Colleges and universities may also exclude you, especially for on-campus applications.
- An OWI may also interfere with your ability to rent an apartment or house.
While a conviction for reckless driving in Indiana isn’t a great thing, it normally imposes a much lower level of ongoing hardship on drivers compared to an OWI.
Not everyone should try to plea to a wet reckless.
Taking a wet reckless plea deal isn’t appropriate for everyone cited for DWI in Indiana. Talk to your lawyer about all your options. Depending on the facts of the case, the circumstances of your arrest, and the conduct of law enforcement, fighting to defeat the charges outright is often a far better course of action.
For example, there are lots of OWI defenses in Indiana:
- Lack 9f probable cause to stop you in the first place;
- Improper conduct of roadside sobriety tests;
- Use of improper or unreliable tests.
- Overreliance on the subjective opinion of the arresting officer rather than hard evidence
- Failure to properly calibrate and maintain the breathalyzer device
- Failure to adhere to the required timeline of an OWI stop
- Failure to read you your rights
- Lack of proof you were even operating the vehicle
- A medical condition that may impact your BAC reading, such as GERD
Any and all of these defenses can and have resulted in Indiana OWI charges getting dropped by the DA’s office, getting, thrown out altogether by a judge, or rejected by a jury in a “not guilty verdict.”
If there are significant problems with the prosecutors’ case against you, you should seriously consider fighting the charge and attempting to defeat it completely.
You Don’t Have a “Right” to a Plea Bargain to Wet Reckless in Indiana.
Be aware that the prosecutor’s office is not in any way obligated to offer you the wet reckless plea deal. It’s a privilege, not a right. The prosecutor has the right not to offer a deal at all, and may go ahead and try to go to trial on a DWI.
What to do now.
1. Don’t say anything to law enforcement or prosecutors. Anything you say in your defense or trying to negotiate your case can be twisted and used against you in court. It’s amazing what they can do with seemingly innocuous statements. Do all your talking through your lawyer.
2. Get a lawyer. You did get a lawyer, didn’t you?
3. Get your SR40 and SR22 forms filed quickly. Like most states, Indiana requires those arrested for DUI to engage their defense on two separate fronts: The courts themselves, and administratively with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
3. Look at your car insurance. Are you with the right carrier? The best insurance company when you had a clean driving record probably isn’t the best insurance company for you now that you have an arrest or conviction for an OWI or reckless driving in Indiana.
At SelectSR22Insurance.com, we are built specifically for the higher risk driver.
Insurance companies all price risk very differently. These price differentials are especially high in the non-standard/high risk car insurance segment.
It’s therefore critically important for you to work with an independent insurance agency – not a captive one. An independent agency or broker can shop your application to many different carriers, each with their own quirks, underwriting approaches, advantages, and disadvantages.
So you can be sure you’re getting the best possible coverage appropriate for your unique situation at a competitive price.
Yes, your premiums are probably going to up, whether you are convicted of reckless driving or OWI in Indiana.
But by going through an independent car insurance broker rather than a captive agent, and looking at all the alternatives, you can probably save a lot of money by going through a specialist.
To start the process today, click here, and fill out a brief online form to get quotes from multiple insurance carriers.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on the road!
Steve “Mr. Insurance” Ludwig
CEO, Select Insurance Group
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