Comedian Tiffany Haddish Reaches Wet Reckless Plea Deal for DUI Charges: Can I Do the Same in Arizona?
The consumption of alcohol has been proven time and time again to increase reaction time and decrease overall driving abilities. It’s always important to have a designated driver or call a rideshare after a night of drinking. Saving yourself a few dollars and the inconvenience can cost you far more if you cause an accident or are arrested for driving under the influence. Money isn’t always the issue for every person arrested for DUI. In November 2024, superstar comedian Tiffany Haddish was arrested after being seen slumping over the wheel of her vehicle and blocking traffic in Beverly Hills, California. This came after a previous suspected DUI arrest in Georgia in 2022. But the Girls Trip actress has managed to avoid jail time through a plea deal known as a “wet reckless” in California. Can a driver arrested for impaired driving in Arizona employ a similar legal strategy? Read on to learn more about defense tactics for DUI cases in Arizona, and if you’re looking for an experienced lawyer to take on your case, call 480-833-8000 for your free consultation.
Arizona Revised Statutes Section 28-1381
Arizona defines DUI, or driving under the influence, in A.R.S. § 28-1381. This law makes it illegal to drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or substance, with a BAC or blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher, or if it is a commercial vehicle, a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 or higher. This offense is a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona, but it can be enhanced by several factors. A.R.S. § 28-1382 sets out the classifications for when a driver has an extremely high BAC. When the driver’s BAC is 0.15 or more but less than 0.20, the offense is considered an Extreme DUI. A BAC of 0.20 or higher is considered a Super Extreme DUI. The sentencing guidelines for elevated DUI charges are stricter, especially if the defendant has prior offenses on their record, as DUI defendants often do. All of the offenses described here are misdemeanor offenses.
A driver can be charged with felony DUI, also known as aggravated DUI if any of some factors are present. A passenger under 15 years old, a third DUI arrest in 7 years, driving on the wrong side of the highway, or receiving a DUI while their driver’s license is penalized (suspended, revoked, etc.) or the driver is ordered to have an ignition interlock device, or IID, installed in their vehicle. There are other more serious considerations for a felony conviction as opposed to a misdemeanor, such as losing civil rights like the right to vote and possess a firearm. A felony conviction will make it almost impossible to pass background checks for jobs, rental applications, and more. For more information about what to do next after an Arizona DUI arrest, call 480-470-1504 for your free phone consultation with our firm.
What is a “Wet Reckless” Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain allows a defendant to plead guilty to the charge(s) against them and usually results in some type of benefit for the defendant. That may be a conviction under a lesser offense or penalties on the low end of the sentencing guidelines the judge will apply in the case. Because Arizona has mandatory jail time for even first-time DUI offenders, plea bargains can be crucial to the disposition of a DUI case. In DUI cases, some defendants can leverage the evidence available to convince the prosecution to reduce the charges to an offense that doesn’t carry mandatory jail time. Reckless driving is a common example of an offense closely related enough to DUI that it is sometimes an appropriate plea reduction. But reckless driving, defined by A.R.S. § 28-693, has no requirement that the defendant be arrested with any drugs or alcohol in their system. It only requires that the defendant operated a motor vehicle with reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property. It is a class 2 misdemeanor in Arizona, which is a less serious classification than a class 1 misdemeanor like a DUI offense. A “wet” reckless is a reckless driving charge with the acknowledgment that the driver had alcohol in their system.
A defendant who utilizes a wet reckless plea bargain in their DUI case will see many benefits as opposed to being convicted of DUI, but many drawbacks as well. A reckless driving conviction doesn’t carry mandatory jail time, and the maximum jail sentence is 90 days as compared to 6 months in jail or more for a DUI conviction. Additionally, the probation period will be shorter for a reckless driving conviction, too. The fines will be lower, and a reckless driving conviction isn’t accompanied by a mandatory driver’s license suspension (or revocation) like with a DUI charge.
Penalties for DUI vs. Reckless Driving
As you probably know by now, a DUI conviction in Arizona means at least one day in jail for the defendant. The minimum jail sentence for a DUI in Arizona is 10 days, but up to 9 of those days can be commuted. The penalties for DUI convictions in Arizona are as follows:
Per Se DUI
First offense:Minimum 1 day in jail, $1,480 in fines
Second offense: Minimum 90 days in jail, $3,000 in fines
First offense: Minimum 9 days in jail, $3,000 in fines
Second offense:Minimum 120 days in jail, $3,250 in fines
Super Extreme DUI
First offense: Minimum 14 days in jail, $3,250 in fines
Second offense: Minimum 180 days in jail, $4,250 in fines
Felony DUI: At least 4 months in prison and $4,000 in fines
There are other consequences for a DUI conviction in Arizona like probation, community service, driver’s license suspension, drug and alcohol counseling, IID, and more. The defendant can face massive expenses in addition to court-ordered fines like legal representation, incarceration fees, county reimbursement for a public defender, course registration fees, vehicle impound fees, and increased costs for auto insurance coverage. The maximum jail sentence for reckless driving in Arizona is four months, and the maximum fine is $750. Even if the defendant still has to serve time behind bars, penalties are measured by maximums for reckless driving rather than minimums for DUIs. If you have additional questions or concerns about the penalties for DUI and reckless driving in Arizona, don’t hesitate to schedule your free consultation with our law firm at 480-833-8000.
Strategize Your DUI Defense with an Experienced Attorney
A public defender isn’t the right fit for every DUI case. Selecting your defender can give you the confidence and security to pursue the best legal strategy for your situation, which may be a reckless driving plea bargain. This can all depend on the evidence that is available for your case. Review evidence, strategies, and more with your free consultation with an experienced member of My AZ Criminal Defense Lawyer. We are confident that we will be your top choice for legal representation when facing criminal charges in Arizona. To get scheduled, contact us through our online form or call us at 480-833-8000.