You may have had friends or family members who got a plea deal for a “wet reckless” after a DUI arrest. While you may know that the wet reckless allowed them to get a lighter sentence, you may not fully know what a wet reckless is.
A wet reckless is a way to potentially reduce the criminal penalties you face for driving under the influence of alcohol in California. Instead of being charged with a DUI, you are charged with a type of reckless driving. The catch is that your criminal record will indicate that alcohol (or drugs) were involved in your driving offense. In many cases, the penalties for a wet reckless conviction are less serious than those for a DUI.
Just because you are arrested for driving under the influence in California does not automatically mean that you will be charged with or convicted of a DUI. The best way to reduce the negative consequences of a DUI arrest is to hire a knowledgeable attorney to represent you. San Diego DUI attorney Vikas Bajaj knows that the sooner your defense begins, the more likely getting the charges against you reduced or dismissed will be. If you would like more information, contact our San Diego office today.
What is a wet reckless?
A wet reckless is a type of plea bargain that may be available in some DUI cases. Rather than pleading guilty to a DUI for violating California Vehicle Code Sections 23152(a) or 23152(b) VC, you would plead guilty to a type of reckless driving.
Specifically, you would be convicted of a wet reckless under VC 23103.5. A wet reckless is basically reckless driving (or dry reckless) with a permanent notation that alcohol (and/or drugs) were involved in your driving offense. The penalties associated with reckless driving are often less severe than those for driving under the influence.
When can a DUI be reduced to a wet reckless?
Prosecutors will not always offer a wet reckless plea bargain in a DUI case. Whether or not your DUI is eligible for a wet reckless plea bargain will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. Generally, prosecutors may offer a plea deal for wet reckless if they do not believe that they have a strong case against you. Evidence and information that may persuade a prosecutor to offer a wet reckless plea bargain include:
- Chemical testing results that show a BAC that is very close to the legal limit of .08;
- Your ability to complete and pass field sobriety tests;
- Displaying a positive and non-aggressive attitude toward the arresting officer; and
- A lack of prior drunk driving or drugged driving offenses.
Why is it good to have a DUI reduced to a wet reckless?
The consequences associated with a wet reckless conviction are generally not as harsh as those associated with a conviction for a DUI. While both offenses carry similar penalties, a conviction for a DUI will generally result in more jail time, longer probation, and the loss of your license. A wet reckless conviction, on the other hand, offers the possibility to get a lighter sentence.
Here are some of the ways in which a wet reckless can be better than a conviction for a DUI.
You don’t automatically lose your license for a wet reckless
If you are convicted of a DUI you will automatically lose your license. A first-time DUI offense triggers a 6-month suspension of your driving privileges. (Note: this revocation can be contested.) Additional DUI convictions will also result in (uncontestable) license suspensions. Unlike a DUI, a wet reckless does not automatically result in the loss of your driving privileges.
A separate DMV hearing is held to determine whether your license will be revoked for a period of time. If you agree to a wet reckless plea and can successfully win your DMV case your license will not be revoked.
The maximum jail time for a wet reckless is considerably shorter than for a DUI
A wet reckless carries a maximum jail sentence of 90 days. A DUI, on the other hand, can trigger terms of imprisonment lasting as long as 6 months.
The mandatory minimum sentence for a wet reckless may be less than for a DUI
This is especially true if you are arrested for your 2nd or 3rd DUI. A wet reckless carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 days. A 2nd DUI carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days. A 3rd DUI carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 120 days. Securing a plea bargain for a wet reckless when you have prior DUIs can be extremely beneficial.
The term of probation for a wet reckless can be less than for a DUI
Probation can include requirements to attend alcohol treatment classes, abstain from alcohol or drug use, pay for damage caused by your conduct, perform community service, and even limit your ability to go to certain places or see certain people. The probationary period for a wet reckless can range from between 1 to 2 years. The probationary period for a DUI can range from 3 to 5 years.
A wet reckless may cost less (financially) than a DUI
When you are convicted of a DUI in California you can face extraordinary financial costs. According to the state of California, the minimum financial cost of a DUI is estimated to be $45,435 when things like:
- DUI classes,
- fines and attorney fees,
- DMV reinstatement fees,
- car impoundment, and
- increases of car insurance premiums are considered.
A wet reckless can help you to sidestep many of these costs.
What are the drawbacks to a wet reckless?
Negotiating a plea for a wet reckless can help to minimize the possible consequences for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, a wet reckless is still a punishable offense. While the charge may be less severe than a DUI, a wet reckless can still trigger serious criminal and non-criminal consequences. Here are a few of the potential drawbacks to a conviction for wet reckless in California.
- A wet reckless can still count as a “prior offense” for other DUIs. If you are arrested for a DUI within 10 years of a wet reckless plea bargain you will be considered to have prior DUI offenses. This means that you will be subject to the harsher penalties for repeat DUI offenders.
- You may still lose your license after a wet reckless conviction. While your license is not automatically suspended, it is still possible that you will lose your driving privileges for a period of time. Reckless driving is still a serious offense that California and the California DMV take seriously. Your specific case will be evaluated in a DMV hearing.
- Insurance companies treat a wet reckless like a DUI. This means that your insurance rates will probably still go up after a wet reckless plea bargain. California estimates that the rise in car insurance rates after a DUI conviction will cost approximately $40,00 over a 13 year period. If your insurance company treats a wet reckless like a DUI you may face this increased cost.
- You’ll still get points on your license. A reckless driving conviction will add 2 points to your license.
Experienced San Diego DUI Defense Attorney
It is important to fully understand your situation and options following an arrest for driving under the influence in California. Speaking with an experienced San Diego DUI attorney is the best way to fully comprehend your current situation. For more than 16 years, Vikas Bajaj has helped clients like you fight DUI charges in California. Using an aggressive pre-investigation process, Mr. Bajaj attacks the prosecution’s case and works tirelessly to get DUI charges reduced or dismissed. Many times, his ability to pinpoint weaknesses in the prosecution’s case has allowed him to secure beneficial wet reckless plea bargains for his clients.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in California do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj. He will review your case, determine the likelihood of getting a reduction in charges, and answer any questions you may have about your DUI.