“Dry Reckless” as a California DUI Plea Bargain

When you are arrested for a DUI in California you may be able to avoid the harsh penalties by getting the prosecutor to drop your charge to a dry reckless charge under vehicle code 23103 instead of a DUI.

→ ” A dry reckless charge is a misdemeanor that is applied in cases where a person is driving in a way that demonstrates flagrant disregard of the safety of people or property.”

Benefits of a Dry Reckless vs a DUI

As opposed to a wet reckless charge, which is driving with alcohol in your system, a dry reckless has no such connection to a DUI and therefore, although it is classified as a misdemeanor, a dry reckless is a much less serious charge than a DUI.1

  • Shorter Probation
  • Drivers License will not be suspended
  • Fine will be much lower
  • Potential to remove DUI classes as a penalty

Related – 7 Things You Didn’t Know About An “Exhibition Of Speed”



A dry reckless charge is less serious than a DUI because the penalties include:

  • A fine with a minimum of $145 whereas the minimum fine for a DUI is $390.
  • 2 points on your record.

You won’t necessarily lose your driving privileges or have to serve time in jail when convicted or pleading to a dry reckless offense because there is no mandatory court imposed license suspension or mandatory county jail time.

Further, unlike a DUI conviction, since California vehicle code 23103 has no association with alcohol or drug use, a conviction of a dry reckless will not count as a prior offense if you are convicted of a DUI in the future.  This is a very large benefit because the penalties increase with each DUI conviction but with a prior dry reckless on your record instead of a DUI, any subsequent arrest for a DUI will be treated as a first-time offense rather than a second time DUI offense or third time DUI.

A dry reckless plea is even less likely to occur than a wet reckless.  However, like a wet reckless charge, a dry reckless is most beneficial to those who have a previous DUI charge.  If the prosecution is willing to let you plead to a lesser charge of a dry reckless, then your previous DUI will not have an effect on your sentence of a dry reckless because there is no enhancing factor to this charge.

Effect On Insurance and Commercial Licenses

Insurance companies are more likely to overlook a dry reckless conviction and they are much less likely to cancel your insurance policy or increase your premiums drastically.  A dry reckless conviction will not invite the same amount of inquiry that a DUI or wet reckless might invite with respect to professional or commercial licenses and certifications because it is in no way associated with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.2

Dry Reckless FAQs

1) What is a wet reckless charge?

A wet reckless is another name for the charge of reckless driving involving alcohol. A wet reckless is not something you can get arrested for.  If you are arrested for a DUI and have a good defense or the prosecution believes there is some weakness to the DUI charge, the prosecution may offer a plea bargain for a wet reckless.

2) Will I still have to attend a driving under the influence program?

With a dry reckless charge, it is not mandatory that the court impose dui classes.  However, the court may, in its discretion require you to attend a 6-week program instead.

3)  What are some circumstances in which a dry reckless might be possible?

A dry reckless plea under California vehicle code 23103 is most common in circumstances where your BAC measurement is right at a 0.08% or 0.09%.  In many cases, the prosecutor does not want to risk losing at trial because of the percentage and will offer a dry reckless charge.  Another situation might be that you do well on the rest of your field sobriety tests or that there is not enough concrete evidence to support a full DUI charge.  Also, a dry reckless plea is most commonly offered on first offense DUI cases.

4) If my BAC was below 0.08%, can I get a dry reckless plea instead of a DUI?

Most likely, yes.  In this case, it might be worth it to you as a driver to accept a dry reckless charge instead of going to trial, even if your BAC was quite low.  It is in a situation such as this that a dry reckless plea is most likely to be offered.

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Choosing a DUI Attorney

The state of California has implemented some of the nation’s harshest DUI laws with tough penalties.  It is important to have a knowledgeable attorney look at your case and attempt to get the charges dismissed or reduced.  A dry reckless may be a possibility in your case if your BAC was right around 0.08% or there is little evidence to support a charge of DUI.

Considering the fact-specific nature of these issues, it is critical to have the aid of an attorney as soon as possible to offer guidance and advocate for your interests. Time is essential as evidence used in a potential trial is collected from the moment you are stopped by authorities (even before). Do not wait to secure legal help to ensure that you do not inadvertently hurt your case by acting without guidance from an experienced legal professional. Please call our office at: (818) 351-9555 for a free consultation.



  1. California Vehicle Code 23103(a) – A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. California Vehicle Code 23103(b) A person who drives a vehicle in an off-street parking facility, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 12500, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. []
  2. Id. []

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