An arrest and conviction for a DUI in California can be disastrous. Not only can you lose your license, but you can face serious time in jail and steep fines. In some cases, you can avoid these serious consequences by pleading to a “wet reckless” charge. A wet reckless is essentially a friendlier version of a DUI. The plea carries more lenient penalties than a DUI and can give you the opportunity to make the best of a bad situation.
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in California it is important to speak with an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. As a former prosecutor, Ambrosio Rodriguez is uniquely familiar with how the prosecution will approach the DUI charges against you. He knows what evidence they need to convict you and what evidence they may have trouble securing. Using this knowledge, Mr. Rodriguez can fight to have the charges against you reduced to a “wet reckless” or dismissed altogether. Contact his office today to for a free consultation.
What is a Wet Reckless in California?
A wet reckless is not something you for which you can be arrested. Instead, it is a plea bargain under Vehicle Code 23103.5 VC that may be available in certain DUI cases. When you are arrested a prosecutor will review:
- The specific DUI charge(s) against you;
- Your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of your arrest; and
- Your history of DUI-related offenses.
If the prosecutor believes that the offense was relatively minor or that they lack the evidence necessary to convict you they may offer a wet reckless plea bargain. Generally, a wet reckless will be offered in situations where your BAC is very close to the legal limit of .08, you did not exhibit signs of extreme intoxication, you had a good attitude, and no one was injured. A wet reckless can be applied to DUI cases based on alcohol or drug intoxication.
A wet reckless is basically a dry reckless with a notation that drugs and/or alcohol were involved. California Vehicle Code Section 23103.5 specifically states that the prosecution shall state if the facts indicate that “there was a consumption of an alcoholic beverage or the ingestion or administration of a drug…in connection with the offense.”
So, instead of being charged with a DUI, you are charged with a reckless driving offense with a notation that drugs and/or alcohol were involved. A conviction for reckless driving is generally less severe than a conviction for a DUI.
Why is a Wet Reckless Better than a DUI?
A wet reckless can be better than a DUI. In most cases, the consequences of a wet reckless are significantly less harsh than those for a DUI. Here are a few comparisons of the penalties for a DUI compared to the penalties for a wet reckless.
A conviction for both DUI and wet reckless carry a possible jail sentence. However, the maximum sentence for a wet reckless is significantly less than the maximum sentence for a DUI.
- DUI: 6 months in a Los Angeles County jail for a 1st offense; 1 year for subsequent offenses.
- Wet Reckless: 90 days in a Los Angeles County jail.
Mandatory Minimum Sentence
Prior DUI convictions will trigger mandatory minimum sentences. This means that if you have at least one prior DUI conviction, any other DUIs will result in a minimum sentence that includes time in jail. A wet reckless always includes a minimum of at least 5 days in jail. While a wet reckless requires time in jail, the amount of jail time that is required for subsequent DUI convictions is much longer. If you have prior DUI convictions, a wet reckless plea can significantly reduce the mandatory minimum sentence you face.
Probation is a popular form of punishment that is included in sentences for driving-related offenses. When you are sentenced to probation in California you must comply with the specific terms of your probation for a set period of time. Terms of probation often include mandatory counseling, restitution, community service, and requirements to avoid drugs and alcohol. Violating probation can result in jail time and additional penalties. The probationary period for a wet reckless is much less than that for a DUI.
- DUI: 3 to 5 years
- Wet Reckless: 1 to 2 years
If you are convicted of a DUI in California you will lose your driving privileges for a period of time. This is not necessarily true if you plead guilty to a wet reckless. A wet reckless does not automatically result in the loss of your license.
- DUI: 6-month revocation for a 1st offense; 2-year revocation for a 2nd offense; 3-year revocation for a 3rd offense; 1 year for refusing to submit to chemical testing
- Wet Reckless: No automatic revocation. (Note: the issue will be determined by the DMV and not in criminal proceedings.)
Installation of Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
In Los Angeles County, certain DUI convictions may require participation in the Ignition Interlock Device program. This program requires the installation of an IID on any car that you drive as a condition of reinstating your license. A conviction for a wet reckless does not carry this consequence.
Treatment Programs and Counseling
When you are convicted of a DUI in California you are generally required to attend alcohol counseling courses (DUI school). The length of time you will be required to attend this DUI school will generally be less for a wet reckless.
- DUI: Minimum of 3 months for a 1st offense; 18 months for 2nd and later offenses
- Wet Reckless: Suggested 6-week program; 9 months for 2nd and later offenses
Negative Aspects of a Wet Reckless
A wet reckless can act to limit the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol. However, the charge still carries criminal consequences and, in some cases, may not help you. Some negative aspects of a wet reckless in California include:
Mandatory Minimum Sentence
A wet reckless carries a mandatory minimum sentence of no less than 5 days in jail. This means that any conviction for a wet reckless will require that you serve at least 5 days in a Los Angeles County jail. A wet reckless can be beneficial when you are facing a 2nd or 3rd DUI conviction. However, there is no mandatory minimum for a first time DUI offense.
Increase in Insurance Rates
Insurance companies in California generally consider a wet reckless to be a DUI. This means that your insurance rates and premiums will probably still go up.
Counting a Wet Reckless as a Prior Offense
A wet reckless does not erase the fact that you drove under the influence of alcohol. A wet reckless is considered a prior DUI offense. This means that if you are arrested for a DUI within 10 years of a wet reckless you will be treated as having a prior DUI on your record. This will trigger more severe criminal consequences.
Possible License Revocation
A wet reckless does not automatically result in the loss of your license, but it can result in the loss of your license. In order to keep your license you must (1) plead guilty to a wet reckless, and (2) win your DMV case.
Get Help Today
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in California you should not hesitate to speak with an attorney. A conviction for a DUI can result in lengthy terms of imprisonment, steep fines, and even the loss of your driving privileges. Hiring a Los Angeles DUI attorney to handle your case is the best way to fight drunk driving charges in California.
As a former prosecutor, Ambrosio E. Rodriguez knows how to negotiate the best possible outcome for his clients. Many times, this will include negotiating down DUI charges to a wet reckless. Contact his office today to learn about how Mr. Rodriguez can help you fight drunk driving charges in California.