What is the Difference Between Reckless Driving and “Wet Reckless” Driving in Pennsylvania?

As a DUI lawyer and criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I’ve known people who were cited with reckless driving charges and thought it was much ado about nothing. By the time they realized that it was much ado about something, the court date and appeal deadline had passed, and nothing could be done to alter the conviction. In this article, I will define reckless driving and its penalties, explain “wet reckless” and why this is a better alternative to a DUI charge.

What is Reckless Driving in Pennsylvania?

The State of Pennsylvania defines reckless driving as:

§ 3736.  Reckless driving.

(a)  General rule.–Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

(b)  Penalty.–Any person who violates this section commits a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $200.

What Are the Penalties for Driving Recklessly in Pennsylvania?

The State of Pennsylvania takes a dim view of anyone driving in such a manner that it puts our citizenry in jeopardy. To encourage proper driving, Pennsylvania has rather stiff penalties for a reckless driving conviction.

License. If convicted of reckless driving in Pennsylvania, you will be fined a minimum of $200 and lose your license for 6 months.

Jail time and fines:

  • Reckless driving that caused injury carries a $1000 minimum fine and a minimum of 90 days in jail.
  • If your reckless driving caused death, you face a fine of $25,000 and a minimum jail sentence of up to 12 months.

What is “Wet Reckless” in Pennsylvania?

An alcohol-related reckless driving charge is known as a “wet reckless” charge. If a wet reckless charge is offered, you should give it serious consideration. A wet reckless charge carries less severe consequences than a standard DUI. Achieving a plea bargain to this charge will depend on the circumstances surrounding your arrest.

There are several factors in determining whether a prosecutor will accept such a plea. 

  • How close your BAC is to .08% at the time of your arrest
  • Whether your DUI involved an auto accident
  • Whether you have prior DUI convictions
  • Whether you have a criminal history or numerous prior traffic offenses
  • Whether you’re facing additional charges, such as drug or open container violations, evading the police, fleeing the scene, or resisting arrest

What are the Penalties for “Wet Reckless” in Pennsylvania?

If you succeed in pleading to a lesser “wet reckless” charge, you will still incur penalties. These can include:

  • A minimum fine of $200
  • Possible jail time of up to 90 days
  • Four points on your driving record
  • Possible six-month license suspension for a first offense
  • Alcohol education or treatment

A conviction for Reckless Driving-Alcohol Related carries with it the same consequences as a normal reckless driving conviction. The primary difference is that in a Reckless Driving Alcohol Related conviction, you will have to successfully complete a state-mandated and state-approved alcohol education/treatment course.

This plea offers the benefit of not having a DUI conviction on your driving or criminal record and also, under this plea deal, your license will not be suspended or revoked as with a DUI.

If you are facing a reckless driving and/or driving under the influence, you need an experienced criminal lawyer by your side. Contact the Fishman Firm for a free consultation.

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