Attorney Aizman is a Former DUI prosecutor that trained police officers on how to testify in DUI hearing & trials.
By: Diana Aizman
Founding Attorney at Aizman Law Firm
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.12
› A wet reckless plea is not a guarantee and it is most commonly offered after your first offense. The likelihood of a prosecutor offering a wet reckless plea to a second time DUI offender is extremely slim.
However, if you are a repeat offender and can get the prosecution to offer a wet reckless, you are the kind of person that would benefit most from this plea. When convicted with a wet reckless, there are no mandatory sentencing enhancements if you are a repeat offender. Therefore, if you are a repeat offender and can get the charge reduced to a wet reckless, you may escape mandatory jail time, larger fines, and longer court imposed license suspension.
Related: 3 Stages of a Misdemeanor DUI
Compared to a DUI conviction, the penalties that go along with a wet reckless are much lighter.
- Unlike a DUI which has a mandatory minimum fine of $390 plus penalty assessments a wet reckless does not have a required fine.
- Additionally, there is no mandatory jail sentence.
- Your time on probation could be less than a DUI.
However, you will still have to complete a court ordered driving under the influence program but there is no court-imposed suspension on your license. If you are arrested and convicted of another DUI within 10 years of the wet reckless, you will be treated as a repeat offender and the penalties will be applied according to the standards for a second offense DUI.
It is important to remember that a wet reckless is still considered a prior offense on your record if you are arrested for a DUI in the future.
There are a number of advantages to pleading to a wet reckless rather than a DUI:
- A wet reckless does not carry the same stigma as a DUI.
- If your employment involves driving, a wet reckless conviction could allow you to retain your job.
- Jail time is not mandatory for a wet reckless conviction as it is for a DUI. A DUI conviction is up to 6-months in jail for a first offense and up to one year for subsequent convictions, while a reckless driving conviction carries no more than 90-days. This is significant if you are looking at a subsequent DUI conviction that carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of more than 90-days.
- The court will likely not order you to install an ignition interlock system on your car.
- Your mandatory DUI class participation time is greatly reduced. You can spend only a few months rather than many months or years attending classes.
- Your fine in a DUI, which is usually $390 and up to $1000, is typically less than the minimum fine in most cases.
- Probation for a DUI is 3-5 years; for a wet reckless, it is 1-2 years.
- The court will not automatically impose a suspension on your license for a wet reckless. However, the DMV can still suspend your license if your BAC was 0.08% or you refused testing unless you prevail at the administrative or per se hearing before the DMV.
- A wet reckless remains priorable for 10 years. This means that if you are charged with a subsequent DUI with 10 years from the date of your previous arrest than it would be considered a second DUI for purposes of assessing penalties.
- You will still receive two points on your driving record from the DMV.
There are other pleas that the prosecution can offer such as a:
A wet reckless is the most common type of plea that you will be offered. However, the previous pleas mentioned above are more advantageous than a wet reckless because they are not considered prior offenses.
Understanding the art of negotiating with prosecutors and reaching a favorable plea bargain requires experience within the California criminal law system. Therefore, it is imperative that you contact a California DUI attorney who is well-versed in these matters as soon as feasible. Your attorney will be able to analyze the particulars of your case, offer guidance on likely outcomes, and advocate for your interests with the State.
1) If The Court Doesn’t Suspend My License, Can The DMV Still Suspend It?
Yes. A wet reckless is still reported to the DMV and the DMV will treat it the same way they would a DUI. The DMV is a separate administrative hearing and if you have a BAC of above 0.08% or lose your DMV hearing, they may still suspend your license for up to four months.
It is not the conviction of wet reckless that triggers the need for SR-22 insurance but rather a loss at a DMV Administrative Per Se hearing. The DMV will require SR-22 in order to have your driving privilege reinstated.
3) When Is It Most Likely That A Prosecutor Will Offer A Plea Of A Wet Reckless?
The likelihood of you receiving an offer of a wet reckless depends on the individual circumstances of your case. Some common examples of when a prosecutor offers the plea include (1) when your BAC is right at 0.08%, and (2) they would rather see a conviction than risk losing at trial. If you have been convicted previously of a DUI the chances are smaller that the prosecution will offer this plea unless your defense is really strong.
4) Why Should I Plead To a Wet Reckless Charge If It Will Still Be Considered A Prior If I Am Convicted Of A DUI In The Future?
The wet reckless charge, which is an inducement to get drivers arrested for a DUI to plea out, has many advantages. A wet reckless looks much better on your record than a DUI and may help if you are trying to get employment or have employment where a DUI may disqualify you from certain certifications or clearances. A Wet Reckless also has a shorter probation period than a DUI which is typically 3-5 years of probation. Converesely a Wet Reckless typically has a 1-2 year probation period and you will qualify more quickly for a misdemeanor expungement under penal code 1203.4 Additionally no license suspension is triggered with a Wet Reckless plea. A first time, second time DUI, and third time all trigger automatic license suspensions as well as chemical test refusals and driving under the influence under 21 years of age.
Can you get a wet reckless expunged?
Yes, you can have a wet reckless convicted expunged pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4. There are conditions under which an expungement may be granted including having completed all conditions of probation and having no pending criminal charges. Once expunged, you can state without fear of perjury that you have never been convicted of a DUI or wet reckless. Further, a criminal background check will not reveal the conviction.
However, your conviction still counts as a “priorable,” meaning that if you receive a subsequent DUI, the wet reckless conviction is counted as a prior conviction, leading to stricter penalties regarding jail time and increased time for license suspension among others.
Can I get a DUI reduced to a wet reckless?
It is not uncommon to get a DUI charge reduced to a wet reckless under California Vehicle Code Section 23103 and 23103.5. You are actually pleading guilty to “dry reckless” under VC 23103 but the section requires that the prosecution state a basis for the substitute charge and to state whether alcohol had been consumed or drugs ingested. This means that the conviction will be treated as alcohol-related.
A prosecutor may offer or agree to a wet reckless if your BAC result was 0.08% or slightly above and your driving conduct was relatively innocuous. Other factors may be your lack of prior convictions or any other criminal convictions and if there are problems with your case. This may include issues with your stop, detention or arrest, the validity of the breath or blood test or other evidence.
What is the BAC limit in California?
You are not allowed to drive in California or any other state if your blood alcohol concentration or BAC level is 0.08% or higher. If you have a commercial driver’s license, the BAC level is 0.04%. For drivers under the age of 21, the BAC level is 0.02%, which is essentially zero tolerance. If your BAC is at or above these levels depending on your status, you are presumed to be under the influence of alcohol and your license is subject to suspension by the DMV.
How long does a wet reckless stay on your record?
A wet reckless is significant for 10-years. This means that if you receive a subsequent DUI or wet reckless conviction within 10-years of the original charge, the court will consider it as a subsequent and not a first offense.
How many points is a wet reckless?
Like a DUI, you will receive 2 points on your license.
Is wet reckless a misdemeanor or a felony?
A wet reckless is a misdemeanor. This is especially significant if you have 3 prior DUI convictions since a fourth is a felony, or you were involved in an alcohol-related injury or fatal accident that is usually charged as a felony.
Can a wet reckless be an infraction?
No, a wet reckless is a misdemeanor only and is considered a criminal offense. An infraction is not a criminal offense.
Resolute Defense In Your DMV Hearing: Including
- Review of the police report for any shortcomings in the investigation.
- Subpoenaing the records of maintenance and accuracy logs on the specific PAS and/or ECIR machine used to conduct your exam.
- Strategizing any viable defenses to preserve your license, etc.
Zealous Defense In Your Criminal Proceedings: Including
- Extensive review of the police report for possible defenses.
- Subpoeaning the video footage (“dash cameras”) of the traffic stop, if any taken.
- Have any blood drawn retested by an independent facility.
- File any important Pretrial motions (i.e., Motion to Suppress the evidence against you, Pitchess Motion for officer misconduct at arrest, etc.)
- Plea Negotiations with prosecutors to garner a charge reduction.
- Dismissal of the case, if applicable for insufficient evidence.
Dynamic Defense In Your Trial Proceeding: Including
- File pre-trial motions to seek to exclude any non-relevant evidence that prosecutors may try to use in trial.
- Utilize research on demographic set for jury selection
- Cross examine all witnesses including law enforcement & government expert
- Present expert testimony in your favor
At the Aizman Law Firm, our experienced DUI attorneys can help you with questions you might have about the entire DUI process and penalties for an offender. If you need to speak to a DUI attorney about your DUI case, please call our office at: (818) 351-9555 for a free consultation.
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- California Vehicle Code Section 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. Vehcile 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. Vehcile Code 23103 © except as otherwise provided in Section 40008, persons convicted of the offense of reckless driving shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than five days nor more than 90 days or by a fine of not less than one hundred forty-five dollars ($145) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, except as provided in Section 23104 or 23105. [↩]
- Vehicle Code 23103.5 – If the prosecution agrees to a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a charge of a violation of Section 23103 in satisfaction of, or as a substitute for, an original charge of a violation of Section 23152, the prosecution shall state for the record a factual basis for the satisfaction or substitution, including whether or not there had been consumption of an alcoholic beverage or ingestion or administration of a drug, or both, by the defendant in connection with the offense. The statement shall set forth the facts that show whether or not there was a consumption of an alcoholic beverage or the ingestion or administration of a drug by the defendant in connection with the offense. [↩]