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Law Offices of Aaron Bortel

In Marin County, there are guidelines for determining whether or not a DUI charge can be reduced. Typically, a first-time DUI charge meeting the District Attorney’s guidelines be reduced to an alcohol-related wet reckless driving charge. The penalties for a wet reckless are less severe than the penalties for a regular DUI, which is one reason we work to get DUI charges reduced If we cannot get charges dismissed. In order for a DUI charge to be reduced to a wet reckless charge; it would have to be a first-offense DUI; the Marin County District Attorney’s Office will not reduce a second DUI offense within ten years to a wet reckless.

Certain circumstances might make it more likely for the DA’s office to determine that a first-offense DUI charge should be reduced, even if the defendant was well above the legal limit for alcohol. For example, there have been instances where the DA’s office granted a wet reckless charge because the defendant was dealing with an immigration issue. Otherwise, the DA’s office will typically follow the guidelines. It should be noted that if a person has a DUI charge reduced to a wet reckless charge and receives another DUI charge within 10 years of the first, the wet reckless would count as a prior DUI.

For the past few years, the DA’s office has considered reducing DUI charges for people who had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 or lower. Currently, they are considering COVID-19 offers, which means they are reducing some DUIs for people who had a BAC as high as 0.12. However, it is rare for them to grant any charge reduction for DUIs involving BACs over 0.12.

In most cases, the DA’s office adheres tightly to the guidelines, and can be sticklers. For example, I have defended people who took one test showing a BAC of 0.12 and another test showing a BAC of 0.13, and the Marin County District Attorney still refused to reduce the charge. In every case, it is our job to research and investigate the case, which includes examining the breath or blood testing procedures and machines, chain of custody in blood cases, requesting and reviewing videos and 911 calls and determining whether the arresting officer had sufficient cause for the initial stop and DUI investigation.

If we are not able to find a way to win, and if negotiations leave us with a non-reduced charge, the client may choose to go to trial. Regardless of the circumstances of the case, it is the client’s constitutional right to decide whether or not they want to proceed to a jury trial. Alternatively, the client could choose a judge trial, but I wouldn’t’t recommend it. Typically, we want to put our clients in front of 12 jurors, because this usually gives us the best chance of winning. We could get a hung jury, which is when the jurors don’t all agree on a verdict, or we could get a not guilty verdict from all 12 jurors on Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) and 23152(b) counts, which are the DUI charges.

For years, the Marin County DA’s Office would not grant wet reckless charges in lieu of DUI charges; since they began granting these over the past few years, the number of cases going to jury trials has been reduced. In addition, there is a new law in California which has changed the maximum penalty on wet reckless charges from three years of probation to one year of probation. Once probation is over, it is much easier to bring a motion to expunge the conviction, and for a lot of people, an expungement under Penal Code Section 1203.4 is really important.

The fine for a wet reckless charge is about half the amount that it is for a DUI charge, and there is typically no jail or sheriff’s work program required for a wet reckless charge. A wet reckless alone will not result in a suspended license when the Marin County Superior Court Clerk’s Office notifies Sacramento Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of a conviction; it is the separate administrative hearing that could result in a license suspension. However, if we can win the administrative per se hearing with the DMV (i.e. the DMV hearing), then there would be no driver’s license suspension.

A DMV hearing must be requested within 10 days of the arrest. Penalties for losing the administrative hearing or not requesting one in the first place include a four-month suspension or ignition interlock device restriction, or one month of no driving followed by at least five months of work restricted driving. In addition, SR-22 insurance would be required for three years. We can assist clients in obtaining this additional insurance through a low-fee insurance company. To qualify for the IID or work restricted license, one must be also enrolled in a three-month first offender DUI school.

In many ways, wet reckless charges are much better than DUIs, and in some ways they are similar. Receiving a wet reckless charge as opposed to a DUI charge can save a person a lot of money, which is why it is so important to hire an experienced DUI attorney. In a DUI case that has the potential to be reduced to a wet reckless, it is essential to hire the right attorney in Marin County. In every way, we always aim for the best possible results, which means keeping our clients out of jail, limiting the probationary period, minimizing fines, and keeping you driving.

There are many things that an experienced DUI attorney in Marin County can do for a DUI defendant that an inexperienced attorney will not do. It is highly advisable for DUI defendants to seek an experienced DUI attorney in Marin County as soon as they have been arrested for DUI.

For more information on Getting DUI Charges Reduced In Marin County, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 886-6333 today.

Aaron Bortel

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