Articles Posted in DUI Accidents

wet-recklessIf you’ve ever been arrested for DUI, or if you know someone who has, you have possibly heard the term “wet reckless” thrown around. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the prosecution may offer to allow a DUI defendant to plead guilty to “wet reckless” as a reduced charge. If you are offered this kind of plea deal and agree to the terms, accepting it can provide you more leniency compared to a DUI conviction, but there are still some nuances in the law and some consequences you need to be aware of. Let’s discuss some of the key differences between a “wet reckless” charge and a DUI charge to help defendants make an informed decision in the event of a plea deal.

What Is a “Wet Reckless” Charge?

“Wet reckless” is simply a colloquial term for reducing a DUI charge to a reckless driving charge under California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5 VC, with the additional note on the defendant’s record that alcohol was involved. (Hence the term “wet reckless.”) The unique thing about a wet reckless charge is that it only occurs in a plea deal situation, as a reduction down from DUI. In other words, prosecutors would never charge a defendant initially for “wet reckless driving” because technically it’s the same offense as reckless driving. You’ll only have a “wet reckless” charge on you record if you accept a plea deal in response to a DUI and agree to plead guilty or nolo contendere to the lesser charge.

hit-and-run-los-angeles-DUI-300x169Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be disruptive and traumatic, both for you and for everyone involved. But if you decide to leave the scene of the accident before police have arrived, you make the situation even worse. Now, you have added hit-and-run to any other offenses you might have been charged with, punishable by possible fines and jail time.

People may commit hit-and-run offenses for a number of reasons, some less obvious than others. For instance:

• They might not have realized they made contact with another vehicle or person.

DUI-myths-vs-realityAs much as we are bombarded with media messages and warnings to avoid drinking and driving—and the consequences if we ignore those warnings—it’s remarkable how much the public doesn’t understand about DUI, especially here in Los Angeles. In particular, people who get pulled over on suspicion of DUI frequently have inaccurate preconceived ideas about what officers can and cannot do, what might cause an arrest, whether or not the charges will stick, and so on.

To be clear, you should never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking, and nothing we’re about to say should be construed as suggesting otherwise. However, people frequently misjudge their own thresholds, and even people who haven’t been drinking sometimes find themselves under roadside investigation for DUI. Let’s dispel a few commonly held myths about DUI in Los Angeles (and the rest of California, for that matter) and replace them with the facts.

MYTH: Only people who have been drinking are arrested for DUI.

DUI-child-endangerment-CA-300x199Here in California, a single DUI can disrupt your life significantly. Even if you’ve been arrested for your first DUI, it can cost you fines, jail time and license suspension if you are convicted.

However, if you were arrested for DUI with children in the car, your world is about to get a whole lot more complicated. If you drive under the influence, you are considered a threat to public safety, let alone yourself. But if your kids are in the car when you do it, now you’re looking at possible child endangerment—a whole other issue that can add mandatory jail time and more to your sentence.

The repercussions of driving DUI with kids in the car extend well beyond the arrest itself. Let’s look at the numerous possible consequences of doing so.

You have always prided yourself on being a good driver. You’ve always been careful with consuming alcohol before getting behind the wheel; you know your limits and you err on the side of caution. You’ve had a safe driving record for the past 50 years—only an occasional speeding ticket. You’ve never had a DUI, never been arrested.senior-DUI-los-angeles

One night, you go to a restaurant with friends and you have the same glass of your favorite wine that you’ve enjoyed for years—the same glass of wine you’ve always been able to enjoy without it affecting your driving ability. But on your way home, you see a policeman’s lights in your rearview mirror. You pull over; the officer tells you that you were weaving, asks for your license and registration, then asks you to get out of the car. Before you realize what’s happening, you’ve been arrested on suspicion of DUI.

How did this happen? You’re always so careful.

It’s the scenario we all hope never happens—and one that in truth should never happen. Someone has a lapse in judgment, gets behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or another substance, gets into an accident—and another person dies as a result. Aside from the overwhelming sense of loss and guilt of knowing his actions have caused this death, now that person may be facing more serious criminal charges on top of the DUI.DUI-murder-300x200

In a perfect world, you should never find yourself in this situation, but if you are charged in California with a DUI incident involving a fatality, what can you expect? What, exactly, are you facing?

Three Possible Charges

Every 51 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident. Everyone—DUI defendants included!—agrees that we need to “do something” to dramatically reduce this number, but there’s no agreement on what that solution should be. Traditionally, our system has been heavy on the sticks, light on the carrots. We punish DUI drivers tremendously—by stripping them of driving privileges, fining them, sending them to jail, hiking their insurance rates, and beyond. How well is this “heavy on the punitive” system working? Well, take a look at the first sentence in this paragraph—one death every 51 minutes. If we want to do better—and we can—we need to look beyond the punitive and consider other ways to shore up our system, deter unwanted behavior, reward compliant behavior and solve the (challenging and often deeply psychologically rooted) issues that encourage unfortunate behavior behind the wheel.DUI-51-minutes-300x94

In a previous post, we looked at the current and future technologies that could address DUI deterrence. Now we’ll consider some of the other proposed solutions.

Lowering the BAC limit?

One of the most discouraging aspects of being a police officer on the lookout for cases of DUI in Los Angeles must be the number of repeat offenders that they find on the road. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not limited to LA or to the State of California, as this case from Tulsa, Oklahoma, clearly illustrates.multiple-DUI-arrests

The website Tulsa World reports an officer with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol arrested Ivan Ramirez on Thursday, October 20th, for DUI and transporting an open container (among other offenses). The same trooper had just stopped Ramirez three days earlier and arrested him for DUI at that time, too.

Getting picked up twice in one week for DUI is bad enough, but Ramirez made matters worse on that Thursday night. The trooper pulled over Ramirez’s Honda, which had been moving erratically. The trooper recognized Ramirez and smelled alcohol on his breath. He also knew that Ramirez didn’t have a license, because the officer had confiscated it on the night of the first arrest.

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The WalletHub website says that drivers who convicted of a DUI can expect a rate increase of as much as 30 percent on their vehicle insurance. But all drivers who have a DUI in Los Angeles on their driving record may not face that same increase. Different insurance companies handle such infractions differently and consider several factors when making their decisions.rich-driver-los-angeles-DUI

The Consumer Federation of America has released a study saying that one big factor is how rich a driver is. In a study that tested premiums quoted by five large insurers in 10 different cities, the group found that:

•    Upper-income drivers with DUI often pay less than good drivers of moderate means with no accidents or tickets on their driving records. (70 percent of the 30 test cases.)
•    Moderate-income drivers with perfect records pay more than upper-income drivers who caused an accident in which someone was interested. (53 percent of the 38 test cases)
•    Moderate-income good drivers often pay more than upper-income drivers with multiple points on their record. (In more than 50 percent of the 36 cases)

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Some drivers charged with DUI in Los Angeles have had a life-long struggle with alcohol. No matter what the consequences, they can’t stop drinking. DUI-with-children

Michelle Colby of Valparaiso, Indiana, may have such a problem. After making bail on a DUI charge stemming from a crash involving five children last April, she is now back in jail after failing a home breath test.

On April 29th, Colby was carrying five young passengers, including two of her own children, when she failed to yield to another vehicle when making a turn. The driver of the other car and all of Colby’s passengers ended up in the hospital. The crash threw a child and a dog out of Jeep; the child survived, but the dog did not. Police at the scene said that Colby had bloodshot eyes and alcohol on her breath; a breathalyzer test showed a 0.22 blood alcohol reading.

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