Navigating the legal landscape after a DUI charge in Washington State can be daunting, particularly given the state’s strict DUI laws. One common question that arises is whether a DUI can be reduced to reckless driving—a question we shall delve into and dissect within this article.
What can a DUI be reduced to in Washington State?
In Washington State, a DUI charge can, under certain circumstances, be reduced to a less severe charge. The reduction is generally done through a plea bargain, where the accused pleads guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for the dismissal of the more severe charge. The prosecutor might consider this in cases where the evidence is not strong enough or where there are other mitigating factors.
One of the most common reductions is to a charge of reckless driving. Reckless driving in Washington State is defined as driving any vehicle “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” It’s considered a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. The reckless driving penalty is less severe than that of a DUI charge.
Another possibility is the reduction of a DUI charge to negligent driving in the first degree. This is defined as operating a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property, and exhibits the effects of having consumed liquor or an illegal drug. It’s considered a simple misdemeanor and carries less severe penalties than a DUI.
It’s important to note that the reduction of a DUI charge is not automatic and depends on several factors including the circumstances surrounding the case, the defendant’s prior record, the strength of the evidence, and the discretion of the prosecutor.
Can You Get a DUI Reduced to Reckless Driving?
Yes, it is possible. However, the chances of getting a DUI reduced to reckless driving depend on a variety of factors. These include your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of the arrest, any prior DUI or other serious traffic offenses, and whether you caused any harm or damage.
If your DUI charge is reduced to reckless driving, one significant advantage is the impact on your driving privileges. A DUI conviction typically results in a suspended license for at least 90 days. In contrast, reckless driving carries a mandatory license suspension of 30 days.
However, if you have been convicted of reckless driving, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle. An IID is a breathalyzer installed on a motor vehicle’s dashboard. Before the vehicle’s motor can be started, the driver must first exhale into the device. If the analyzed result is greater than the programmed BAC, the device will prevent the engine from being started.
How long does reckless driving stay on your record in Washington State?
A conviction for reckless driving will stay on your driving record for seven years in Washington State. It’s also classified as a major moving violation and can significantly impact your auto insurance premiums.
On your criminal record, however, a reckless driving conviction will remain permanently unless it is vacated or expunged. This can impact future employment opportunities and other areas of life that require a background check.
Can I get a reckless driving charge expunged in Washington State?
Yes, you may be able to have a reckless driving charge expunged, but it’s not an easy process. Expungement in Washington State is referred to as “vacating” a conviction. To vacate a reckless driving conviction, at least ten years must have passed since the sentence was completed and no other convictions must have occurred during that period.
Also, you cannot have any pending charges against you, and you must not have been convicted of a new crime in any state or federal court since the date of your discharge.
However, some crimes cannot be vacated, and it’s always recommended to seek the advice of a criminal or Washington DUI defense attorney when seeking to vacate a conviction.
In conclusion, it’s possible to get a DUI reduced to reckless driving or negligent driving in Washington State under certain circumstances. However, these processes involve complex legal procedures and considerations. Therefore, it’s recommended to enlist the help of a competent attorney who can evaluate your case, guide you through the process, and advocate on your behalf.