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What is a Dry Reckless Charge in Pennsylvania?

Traffic citations are common. Most drivers have gotten a ticket before or will get one at some point. While traffic tickets are usually brushed on as a minor yet expensive annoyance, some are far more serious. Truly dangerous behavior on the road might lead to a dry reckless charge.

Many people consider a DUI one of the most severe traffic-related charges possible, and they are correct. However, many drivers are capable of extremely dangerous driving without a drop of alcohol. These drivers obviously cannot be charged with a DUI, but a “dry” reckless charge might be in order. In other cases, drivers might initially be charged with a DUI, but they agree to a plea deal in which they plead guilty to the lesser charge of a dry reckless. Whether you can negotiate a plea deal for a dry reckless charge is hard to say. Many prosecutors are unwilling to offer plea deals to DUI defendants. In some counties, the District Attorney’s Office does not offer deals for DUIs as a matter of policy.

For a free, private case evaluation, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 and talk to our Philadelphia DUI lawyers.

Dry Reckless Driving Charges in Pennsylvania

Accidents involving drugs or alcohol tend to be severe, even fatal. However, not every dangerous driver on the road is intoxicated. Many are capable of such dangerous driving while completely sober. DUI charges cannot be assessed in cases like this, but a dry reckless charge might be a possibility.

The charge of reckless driving is described under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3736(a). According to the law, a person may be cited for reckless driving if they operate their vehicle in a way that demonstrates a willful or wanton disregard for other drivers’ safety. This is a somewhat vague description, and it could potentially include a whole host of risky behaviors on the road. In short, reckless driving is a serious offense where a person is driving so dangerously that they are actively putting other people in danger.

A dry reckless charge is exactly the same as “reckless driving” and is merely a nickname used to specify that no alcohol was involved. This phrase “dry reckless” tends to come up in a few different situations.

First, a person might be charged with a dry reckless driving offense if they are initially charged with a DUI, but they negotiate for a dry reckless charge. This often occurs when prosecutors cannot prove that the defendant was intoxicated or prosecutors cut the defendant a good deal because they are a first-time offender. Some charges are instead reduced to a “wet reckless” charge to indicate alcohol was actually involved.

The penalties for a reckless driving charge include a $200 fine. However, if others are injured or property is damaged, the fines and penalties may be increased. Reckless driving is a summary offense, and jail time is very rare unless other aggravating factors (e.g., injuries, property damage, death) are present.

Negotiating a Plea Deal for Dry Reckless Charges Instead of a DUI in Pennsylvania

As mentioned above, many DUIs are reduced to reckless driving charges through plea deals. This is often preferable among defendants because a reckless driving charge is only a summary offense with a fine. Meanwhile, a DUI might carry much more serious penalties and even possible jail time, depending on the circumstances.

Check with our Pennsylvania DUI attorneys about the possibility of a plea deal. While Pennsylvania does not categorically bar plea negotiations for DUI charges, many district attorneys are unwilling to offer such a deal. A plea deal might be denied at the discretion of the prosecutor on your case or because of a policy set by the District Attorney’s Office in your county.

If you negotiate a plea, it may be for a wet reckless charge. This is a term used to describe reckless driving charges where alcohol might have been involved, but the authorities choose not to impose a DUI. Alternatively, you might work out a deal for a dry reckless charge, where there is no indication that alcohol was involved. Either way, a wet or dry reckless charge carries the same penalty under the same statute.

What Are the Odds of Negotiating a Plea Deal for a Dry Reckless Charge in Pennsylvania?

If you want to negotiate a plea agreement where you plead guilty to a reckless driving charge instead of something more serious, talk to your lawyer about the odds of negotiating a favorable deal with prosecutors.

Was this your first offense? Prosecutors are often more likely to offer better plea deals to defendants with little to no criminal history. If you are facing DUI charges and want to negotiate a deal for reckless driving charges, you stand a better chance if this is your first DUI.

Was anyone hurt? Even if this is your very first DUI, prosecutors are unlikely to work out a plea deal if other people get hurt or property is damaged. In fact, under those circumstances, you might face more serious charges or charges in addition to reckless driving.

In some counties, prosecutors do not offer plea deals on DUI charges and instead arrange for defendants to go through an Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) program. ARD is reserved for first-time offenders and allows defendants to participate in rehabilitative programs, treatment, and educational courses. Upon completion of ARD, your charges may be dismissed, and you will not have a DUI conviction on your record.

In many ways, your odds of getting into ARD are similar to the odds of getting a plea deal. Prosecutors tend to favor first-time, non-violent offenders. If you have a history of DUIs or injured someone, you might be ineligible for the program.

What to Do if You Are Charged with Dry Reckless Driving in Pennsylvania?

If you are charged with reckless driving or a dry reckless, an attorney can help you determine the best way to defend yourself. This might involve entering a guilty plea after working out a plea agreement or challenging the merits of the traffic citation. If you are facing multiple charges, it might be possible to have the reckless driving charge dropped in exchange for a guilty plea to other charges.

Contact Our Pennsylvania DUI Lawyers for Assistance Immediately

For a free, private case evaluation, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 and talk to our Bucks County DUI lawyers.