Being charged with a DUI should not be taken lightly. The charges have significant penalties as well as consequences that can influence your life in the long run. Driving under influence charges demands for an experienced and proven attorney, who can positively fight for a resolution. With offices in Van Nuys, CA, The DUI Defense Attorney can fight for your charge dismissal or wet reckless-plea bargain offered by the prosecution to DUI suspects.

California Wet Reckless Definition

Wet reckless is punished under penal code 23103.5 and referred to as reduced DUI charges. It is never a separate crime therefore not an allegation that an individual can be arrested for. It is a charge that results from a plea bargain to DUI charges. If convicted of DUI wet reckless, a note is put on the defendant’s criminal record to show that the crime was done under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicant. This note is what differentiates "wet" reckless from a "dry" reckless. The latter does not require a note to depict that the offense was committed under the influence of intoxicants.

According to the California Vehicle Code Section 23103, any person arrested for DUI can be charged with wet reckless. This could be a person driving a private or commercial vehicle. With the help of an attorney, the charge could be dropped from DUI to wet reckless after a plea by the defendant. Wet reckless is usually a misdemeanor, and punishable with lesser fines compared to a drunk driving offense. However, if a wet reckless conviction accumulates up to four convictions, you can be charged with a felony wet reckless, that attracts hefty fines and longer sentences.

Wet reckless criminal records remain up to ten years. For instance, if you commit a DUI offense within the ten years while you have a prior wet reckless conviction, and get a wet reckless plea bargain, your prior wet reckless will add weight to the current offense. In fact, this “priorable” characteristic of wet reckless is another way of distinguishing between a wet reckless and dry reckless plea bargain – the latter is not priorable. Despite this, the wet reckless criminal record can be expunged after the court accepts your expungement motion.

Why and When Do Prosecutors Agree to Wet Reckless as Reduced DUI Charge?

As mentioned earlier, wet reckless is a plea bargain to DUI charges; thus, you cannot be arrested for wet reckless. A prosecutor will agree to a wet reckless plea bargain if:

  • Your BAC is or close to 0.08%,
  • There is evidence of rising levels of blood alcohol,
  • Your driving conduct is not “bad”,
  • Questionable issues on how you were stopped or arrested,
  • Questionable evidence handling or storage (in essence, you waited for a long time before a blood or breath test was conducted or the blood sample taken was not enough for the chemical tests).

Even though it is usually the burden of a defense attorney and the defendant to try and convince the prosecutor to reduce DUI charges to wet reckless, most prosecutors would readily agree to this bargain when they have insufficient evidence for the DUI charge. In such a case, the prosecutor would not want to press charges for a potentially risky instance while ensuring that the defendant is answerable to the law.

It is crucial to note that a wet reckless conviction doesn’t necessarily mean that the person drove recklessly or was drunk. It only means that he/she entered a plea bargain, and the charges were reduced to wet reckless because of the above reasons.

Is Wet Reckless Advantageous to a DUI Defendant?

Wet reckless is advantageous over a simple DUI because of the following reasons:

  1. There is no mandatory order from the court to revoke the driver’s license

The court may not suspend your license after your wet reckless conviction. However, the DMV can still suspend your driving license even though you will be allowed to drive around the state after installing an ignition interlock device. This is not the case in a DUI conviction where your license is automatically revoked. A first-time DUI conviction attracts a six-month license suspension while the second and third offenses attract a license suspension of two and three years respectively. 

Furthermore, there are certain charges for driving under the influence that can trigger a license suspension for a year. Some of these charges are refusing to undergo a chemical test or if the driver under the influence was underage. If a driving license suspension is ordered to a wet reckless defendant, he/she continues to drive with an IID. The IID can be effective for three to six months.

In wet reckless, a DMV hearing is set to determine if the license can be suspended. Two points will also be added to the driver’s driving records at the DMV. The more the points accumulate, the higher the chances of suspending the license, and designation as a negligent driver. A successful plea bargain, as well as a win in the DMV hearing, will give you a chance to enjoy your driving privileges. 

  1. A wet reckless sentence is shorter than a standard DUI sentence

A wet reckless defendant faces a five to 90 days jail term. This is contrary to a typical California DUI sentence that has a maximum of six months and one year in jail for a first and second offense respectively. This difference is useful if the offender is sentenced for probation instead of jail. If such an offender violates the probation order after a conviction of wet reckless or driving under the influence, he/she faces a probation violation hearing. If the jury finds that the defendant is guilty of violating the set orders, it has the authority to revoke the probation sentence and send him or her into a maximum jail sentence.

  1. The fines imposed on wet reckless are as low as $145 to $ 1,000 with a shorter probation period of one to two years

The probation will require that the defendant attends classes for alcohol treatment, refrain from using alcohol or drugs, pay for all damages caused during the crime, take part in community services as well as restraining from visiting some places such as schools.

  1. A wet reckless convict will spend only six weeks in the California DUI School without a mandatory suspension of his/her license

If convicted for wet reckless for the first time, the offender attends six weeks in a DUI school. The duration is lengthy for defendants with prior DUI or wet convictions within ten years. This is contrary to driving under the influence where the defendant attends a DUI school for at least three months and increases to 18-30 months for prior convictions within ten years.

  1. Wet reckless would mean that no DUI record will be inclusive on the driver's criminal history

Usually, a DUI conviction means that the offender’s driving record and criminal records would be affected. Professionally, such a sentence triggers a professional license case in California. This can lead to more investigations into the defendant's life if the prosecution feels so, which may impact the offender's career and driving privileges negatively. A wet reckless does not trigger the consequences above.

How is a Wet Reckless Plea Bargain Reached?

As provided by the CVC 23103.5, wet reckless can be acquired from an agreement between the defendant and the prosecution through a plea bargain. After the deal, the court approves the plea bargain for wet reckless. The defendant is then given a chance to plead guilty or no contest to driving recklessly. The court then dismisses DUI charges and later notifies the DMV about the wet reckless conviction. Note that the California criminal record checks into someone's criminal record for the past ten years. Under this stipulated period, any wet reckless conviction will increase the possible penalties for any DUI or wet reckless conviction. Also, the prosecution may deny your wet reckless plea bargain if you have multiple prior convictions for a similar offense. Thus, your lawyer should know about your criminal history to be able to devise a perfect argument that can convince the judge to reduce your DUI charges.

Wet Reckless Related Plea Bargains

Prosecutors can offer a variety of plea bargains instead of wet reckless. These include;

Dry reckless

This is a misdemeanor crime that occurs after a person drives in a gross disregard towards the safety of people and property. Most of the times, these actions are due to the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants.

Similar to a wet reckless plea bargain, you can plead for a dry reckless charge instead of a DUI charge if your blood alcohol content is below or close to 0.08%. Faultiness in the device used to test your BAC could also be a reason why you can get a dry reckless plea bargain. 

Unlike wet reckless, dry reckless is non-priorable – if it is committed as a first offense, a subsequent DUI conviction is charged as a separate offense. Also, a dry reckless conviction means that the defendant was driving recklessly while a driver doesn’t have to be driving recklessly to get a wet reckless conviction. Thus, the latter charge is often considered more severe than dry reckless in regards to an insurance policy and other professional aspects governing the driver's conduct. For instance, wet reckless usually attracts penalties from insurers such as insurance cancellation and an increase in premiums, which is not the case with dry reckless.

Publicly drunk

This offense is defined under PEN 647 (f). This law punishes openly intoxicated individuals who are unable to care for themselves, thereby risking the safety of others and properties. Similarly, if the individual obstructs others from enjoying their public rights, they would have violated this statute.

For this charge to hold, there must be proof that a person was drunk at his/her own will, the said person was in a public place, and he/she was unable to take care of themselves. Examples of actions that can lead to PEN 647 (f) charge are disturbing people in a nightclub and causing public fights, provided that you were under the influence of alcohol.

Speed exhibition

This offense is codified under PEN 23109. It occurs when a driver is intoxicated and accelerates his/her car at a speed that skids the vehicle. In most cases, the driver loses control of the vehicle, hence, endangering other road users' safety.

The law requires that even if the speed does not exceed the stipulated limit, the suspect is liable to exhibition charges as long as he or she accelerated too fast. More so, even though the intention for speed exhibition is to impress someone, the prosecution must not prove such an intention.

California charges speed exhibition as either a misdemeanor or an infraction under the discretion of the prosecutors. The maximum amount you can be fined is 500 dollars, which is lower compared to direct DUI fines. 

Penalties for a Wet Reckless

According to California code 23103/23103.5, wet reckless is charged as a misdemeanor offense and not as a DUI offense. This implies that the defendant is not liable to face the charges and penalties associated with DUI convictions.

If found guilty for a wet reckless, the offender faces a five to 90 days jail term with a fine between one hundred and forty-five dollars to one thousand dollars ($145 to $ 1000). Additionally, the defendant is liable to probation that takes twelve hours or a maximum of three months. The DUI driving conditions will take effect to the reckless driver; they will be needed to maintain the validity of their driving license and the insurance. The amount of alcohol consumed by such drivers will be restricted as well. Not that in a wet reckless guilty judgment, the reckless driver’s license will be automatically suspended by the DMV as it is in the case of standard DUI convictions. 

Besides, "Administrative per se" (APS) hearing will be scheduled. This is an administrative hearing conducted by the Department of Motor Vehicles to decide on whether or not to suspend your driving license. Its outcome is either a win or loss in regards to the suspension of driving license. Notwithstanding the result, the department adds two points on your DMV driving record if you were operating a commercial vehicle.

Similarly, if your vehicle is insured, wet reckless would be regarded as a standard DUI charge. Taking a plea bargain would mean you lose the insurance policy. If the insurance policy is not considered, you will be labeled as a driver ‘at risk', discounts on good driver status taken away, and the insurance coverage price increased.

Obligations of Wet Reckless Driver Under the State Law

In California, a wet reckless driver must observe certain regulations as required by the law. These obligations are discussed below.

To start with, the health care service of California has the mandate to observe people who are convicted of a driving offense to ensure that they comply with the set orders. A significant order is the minimum completion of the DUI programs. For people convicted of wet reckless, they must complete 12 hours for individual counseling, or ten to forty-four hours if it is in a group.

If the individual is a first offender, he or she must undergo the training for a minimum of three, six, or nine months depending on the amount of alcohol present in the blood during the blood test. Some counties might require the person to undergo extra hours in the counseling class.

Subsequent offenders have a special program known as an eighteen month program, requiring an individual to undergo 52 hours in group counseling, attend weekly interviews, and spends six hours being monitored for re-entry in the community. They must also spend 12 hours training on the impacts of intoxicants and complete 18 months program education period.

Besides, some counties might order a driving under influence program lasting for 30 months to all defendants with more than three convictions. This is inclusive of twelve hours in intoxication education for three days and 300 hours of community service with individual interviews.

Multiple DUI or wet reckless convictions attract harsher penalties as well as increased obligations as required by the health care department. However, you stand a chance to regain your driving license if you complete the program successfully. Therefore, you have to ensure you complete the minimum hours required under each class if you are convicted of wet reckless.

Can Wet Reckless Be Defended?

Wet reckless is a reduced DUI Charge. This means that this charge acts as a plea bargain, otherwise classified as a defense strategy for a drunk driving offense. Therefore, you don't necessarily fight to dismiss the wet reckless charge. Instead, you may seek to reduce the possible penalties that follow a wet reckless conviction.

DUI Attorney Near Me

The DUI laws give both the prosecutor and the defendant the right to agree on reduced DUI charges. As a DUI plea bargain, wet reckless does not have stringent penalties as compared to DUI. Thus, you need a DUI defense attorney to ensure you succeed in winning this plea bargain. If you are in Van Nuys, CA, you can contact The DUI Defense Attorney at 818-253-1913 to represent you in your legal proceedings.