Most people facing DUI charges are not looking to go to a jury trial. That is the reality of DUI Defense. As a DUI Attorney, every case should be prepared for as if it was going to a trial. There is no other way to do it. Plea bargains can be reached at any point in the case. Even in the middle of trial, a resolution can be reached. Every successful Sacramento DUI Attorney should have some idea as to what an acceptable resolution will be for their client. The following are examples of potential reductions that can be obtained in DUI cases:
“Wet Reckless” – this is a violation of the Reckless Driving Statute (Vehicle Code 23103), by way of Vehicle Code 23103.5, which specifically states the violation is alcohol related. A wet reckless still counts as a prior conviction if you are charged with another DUI. It is still a misdemeanor. A DUI and a wet reckless are both moving violations that come with 2 points on your driving record. It generally still comes with informal probation.
What a wet reckless conviction does not do is automatically suspends your driver’s license. This point is crucial to understand. The DMV will attempt to take your driver’s license in two separate regards. If you lose the Administrative Per Se Hearing, you will lose your driver’s license, even if you have the charge reduced to a wet reckless, or even a full blown dismissal in court. Once you lose the Administrative Per Se Hearing there are only two ways to have the DMV suspension set aside: a not guilty at trial, or a Helmandollar discussed below.
Now, if you win the DMV hearing and are convicted of a DUI in court, you will still lose your driver’s license, as if you never won the hearing in the first place. But, if you are successful at the DMV hearing, and you receive a wet reckless in court, you will not have your driver’s license suspended. A reduction to a wet reckless causes the Administrative Per Se DMV hearing to be an extremely important hearing.
A wet reckless ordinarily does not come with any work project, although for the sake of obtaining a wet reckless it can be wise negotiation strategy to agree to do work project in exchange for the reduction.
It normally also comes with a significantly reduced fine. It also helps with employers in that you can claim a conviction for Reckless Driving as opposed to a DUI.
“Dry Reckless” – this is simply a violation of Vehicle Code 23103, reckless driving, non-alcohol related. Sacramento County is less hesitant to give these out as surrounding counties, but they can be obtained. This is still a misdemeanor, it still is two points and the same rules that apply to the driver’s license with a wet reckless apply here as well. You still have to be successful at the DMV hearing in order to not have your driver’s license suspended. It generally comes with probation, although usually less of a length of probation than a DUI. It also would not come with the alcohol related terms of probation. Most importantly, it does not count as prior in court if you ever are charged with another DUI offense.
HelmanDollar: In Sacramento County, a Helmandollar is literally a form that is filled out in court by the Judge that overrides any DMV action taken against your license, and allows you to not have to take the DUI program. The name HelmanDollar comes from the case HelmanDollar v. DMV, the case that stood for the proposition that the DMV could not take your driver’s license when you were acquitted in court. In essence, it is an acquittal on the record so that the DMV does not take your license. This is obviously a highly desirable result that most of my clients are extremely interested in, especially the commercial drivers.
The way it works in most Helmandollar cases is that first, the charge needs to get reduced to a wet reckless, and from there a Helmandollar needs to be negotiated. Once an agreement is reached with the District Attorney for a Helmandollar, then the actual form is presented to the court. Once the court signs the form, it is mailed to the litigation unit of the DMV. Once received, the DMV will decline to take any action against your driver’s license, or if they have already suspended it, they will reinstate your license immediately.
The ability to negotiate a Helmandollar is obviously based on the facts of the case, but in my experience, persistence and creative solutions certainly go a long way.
There are other potential reductions, but every reduction or disposition depends on the facts of the case. Just because your DUI charge does not get reduced to a lesser charge, does not mean that negotiations have not taken place. Generally, when the charge will remain a DUI, there is always negotiations that can occur on the fine, the length of any jail or work project sentence, and the length of the DUI program. The ability to obtain a favorable result for his clients is something Sacramento DUI Lawyer Michael Rehm takes pride in. Contact him at (916) 233-7346 to discuss what the possible dispositions are in your case.