Reducing a DWI Charge to a Reckless Driving Charge: Can It Be Done In North Carolina?

A charge of driving while impaired (DWI) in North Carolina is a serious offense that can result in severe penalties, such as jail time, fines, and a loss of your driver’s license. If you have been charged with a DWI, you might be wondering if there is any way to reduce the charge to something less serious. 

Prosecutors in North Carolina do not take DWI charges lightly and therefore are usually unwilling to lower charges. However, you should still consult with an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney to see what can be done to mitigate any potential penalties. 

Here, we discuss whether a DWI can be reduced to a reckless driving charge in North Carolina and, if not, how else we can help clients charged with a DWI. 

What Is “Wet Reckless” Driving? 

In the past, and in certain other states, DWIs could be reduced to something called “wet reckless” driving, which is essentially an elevated reckless driving charge when alcohol is involved. In North Carolina, reckless driving is defined in the North Carolina General Statutes as driving “carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others.” While a serious charge, it carries less severe penalties than a DWI. 

Can your DWI charge be reduced to a “wet reckless” or otherwise reckless driving charge in North Carolina? Unfortunately, this is very unlikely. Most counties in North Carolina no longer offer a reduction for DWIs to a charge of reckless driving.

Why is it so unlikely that a DWI charge would be reduced? In North Carolina, prosecutors are required to explain to the court why they are reducing a DWI to a reckless driving charge. The reduction of charges must be in the interests of justice or because there is not sufficient evidence against the defendant. It is therefore unlikely a prosecutor will agree to reduce the charges or that a judge will agree to the reduction.

How Can a DWI Attorney Help?

Although a reduction to a reckless driving charge is unlikely, a North Carolina DWI attorney can still assist you in pursuing a dismissal of your DWI case. If you have been charged with other traffic violations at the same time as the DWI charge, such as speeding or reckless driving, we can also assist with having those charges dropped or reduced.

In addition to seeking a dismissal of your case, we can assist with guiding you through the complex process of DWI sentencing. Among other things, we can evaluate your case, analyze the circumstances, review your driving history, and determine whether there are mitigating factors that might reduce your potential sentence. 

No matter the circumstances of your case, before you plead guilty to a DWI charge, reach out to us to see how we can help.