A Petaluma police officer charged with drunken driving reached a settlement with prosecutors this week, pleading to a lesser alcohol-related driving charge.
The infraction, called a “wet reckless,” is used as a substitute to DUI charges when prosecutors believe evidence against a suspect may not be strong enough to a guilty conviction in a DUI trial.
For Officer Ryan McGreevy, who was charged with a DUI in January for an incident that occurred on Oct. 5, the plea agreement means an end to a case that has beleaguered a police department known for its strong DUI enforcement. Petaluma’s Traffic Enforcement team consistently wins awards from the state Office of Traffic Safety for its DUI efforts. Mothers Against Drunk Driving also honored McGreevy in 2007 for his work in DUI enforcement.
“For Ryan (McGreevy), it’s a solution that means no jail time, no license suspensions and no criminal conviction,” said McGreevy’s defense attorney Michael Li of the settlement. “For the prosecution, it acts as a prior DUI conviction so that if he is ever in trouble again, they can charge him as a two-time offender.”
McGreevy will receive an $850 fine for the wet reckless citation, as opposed to the $2,400 fine he would have received for a DUI conviction. He will not have his license suspended or serve any jail time, as he would under a DUI charge.
Judge Pat Broderick also sentenced McGreevy to two years probation, during which time he is not allowed to drive with any alcohol in his system. He also must complete “wet reckless education school.” Such sentencing is typical for first-time wet reckless convictions.
McGreevy is not in the clear yet, though, still awaiting possible discipline from the Petaluma Police Department. In a statement released late Tuesday, Police Chief Patrick Williams said that the department is taking McGreevy’s actions seriously and will take “appropriate” action, though he did not say what that action might be. He added that any administrative punishments against McGreevy will not be disclosed to the public due to employee privacy laws.