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If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI in Orange County, you may not understand what “plead to a wet reckless” means. Many people have heard other people mention a wet reckless, and may know that it relates to DUI, but most people who have heard the term don’t know much about what the term really means. Wet reckless is a special kind of law because it is not a crime that you can be originally charged with, nor can it be the reason for your arrest. Wet reckless is something that you can plea down to after a DUI arrest.

If you decide to plea to a charge of wet reckless, the actual charge you will be convicted of is California Vehicle Code 23103, commonly known as Reckless Driving, or a “dry reckless.” However, the fact that your conviction involved alcohol or drugs will still be stated in the conviction record. A simple way to look at it is, a combination of reckless driving involving alcohol.

Pleading a wet reckless can have a few pros to it, as opposed to being convicted of a DUI. The biggest advantage is that you will face less severe punishments. A wet reckless, in comparison to a DUI conviction, will have lower fines, a shorter period of time on probation, and potentially shorter jail time. Additionally, unlike DUI, your driver’s license will not be suspended immediately.

On the other hand, pleading a wet reckless does have its disadvantages and is not always the best option in certain cases. A conviction of wet reckless can result in your car insurance company increasing your premiums. Also, if you are convicted of a DUI at some future point in time, the court will treat your wet reckless conviction as a prior DUI conviction, and your latest DUI as your second DUI, resulting in enhanced sentencing. Thus, if you have a strong enough defense, it is better to take the case to trial, rather than plea a wet reckless.

Therefore, if you have been arrested for DUI, it is highly recommended that you confer with an experienced defense attorney who can advise you if it would be better for you to plea to a wet reckless or take your case to trial. For almost three decades the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm’s attorneys have aggressively and successfully represented individuals charged with DUI in Orange County. If you have any unanswered questions after reading this article, we encourage you to call our office for a FREE consultation, so that our attorneys can evaluate your case and discuss what your best options are.

Educating Yourself About California Vehicle Code 23103.5 – “Wet Reckless”

A wet reckless can be looked at as a reduced DUI. It is the plea bargain most commonly taken after a DUI arrest. As previously discussed, wet reckless cannot itself be a charge. An individual can only be convicted of a wet reckless charge if they plea down to it, and in no instance can the individual be originally arrested for wet reckless. If convicted, your record will state that you have been convicted of reckless driving under VC 22103, with a note under the conviction stating the incident involved alcohol or drugs.

Now that we have provided you a broad overview of what constitutes a wet reckless, we will explain why, and when pleading a wet reckless may be in your best interest.

The Pros Of Pleading Wet Reckless

After a DUI arrest, most people ask if they should agree to a wet reckless plea. Unfortunately, there is no black and white answer; most often an attorney will have to look at the specific circumstances of the individual case. There are many factors that one needs to contemplate prior to pleading wet reckless. Nonetheless, a wet reckless plea can be very beneficial. Pros of pleading down to a wet reckless include:

Reduced Jail Time

Clearly, the least amount of jail time you need to serve, the better. A wet reckless can carry a maximum sentence of 90 days in a county jail. A First Offense DUI, however, can carry a maximum of 6 months, a sentence that can increase for a second or third DUI offense. The difference between 90 days and 6 months is massive. Moreover, a reduced maximum jail sentence can play a big role if your penalty includes a probation period because if you violate your probation, you may have to serve the designated jail time. Still, the court can only require you to serve up to the maximum amount of time your conviction permits. Thus, the wet reckless’ ninety day maximum jail sentence can play a huge role, no matter if you are originally sentenced to little or no jail time.

A wet reckless plea can be very beneficial in regards to the minimum jail sentenced permitted if you have any prior DUI incidents. California law states that a second DUI offense has a minimum of 90 days in jail, and a third DUI offense holds a minimum sentence of 120 days in jail. However, a wet reckless plea’s minimum jail time is never more than 5 days.

Thus, pleading to a wet reckless can considerably affect the jail time you serve. As you know, the less time you spend in jail, is the less time you spend away from loved ones and your job.

Short Probation Period

A wet reckless charge carries a shorter period on probation. Usually, a DUI in California holds 3 to 5 years on probation. Orange County mandates 5 years in most cases. By successfully pleading down to a wet reckless, that probationary period is reduced to 1 to 3 years. This can be in the best interest for someone looking to obtain employment because background checks usually reveal if someone is actively on probation. Moreover, a wet reckless charge cannot be expunged during your probationary period.

Decreased Fines

The fine for both, a DUI, and a wet reckless in California can be a maximum of $1,000.  However, individuals who plead down to a wet reckless do not pay as much as those who are convicted of a DUI. Also, a DUI conviction requires paying other “penalty assessments,” which are not required for a wet reckless. A DUI conviction, on average, requires an individual to pay fines and assessments totaling $3,000, however, individuals who plead down to a wet reckless usually pay about half of that.

No Automatic Driver’s License Suspension

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) always automatically suspends a person’s driver’s license when the person is convicted of a DUI. The person’s driver’s license can be suspended for up to 1 year if the individual convicted of DUI declines to submit to a chemical blood alcohol test, or if the individual is under 21 years of age. If the individual’s license is suspended and the individual is caught driving, more severe punishments can be implemented, such as a jail sentence and/ or violation of the individual’s probation.

In California a conviction for wet reckless does not result in the DMV automatically suspending your license. This can be beneficial to a person who has declined to submit to a breath or blood test and is at risk of getting his/ her license suspended for 1 year. Moreover, if applicable, a person’s commercial or professional driver’s licenses will not be adversely affected. It is important to remember that a person charged with a wet reckless can still face his/her license being suspended if the individual’s blood alcohol concentration was higher than a 0.08% or if he/she loses the DMV hearing (more info. In “10 Stages of a California DUI” tab.)

Less Extensive Dui Education

A First Offense DUI in California compels a person to complete a minimum of 12 weeks in a alcohol education program. If your DUI conviction can be plead down to a wet reckless, a person may void the classes entirely, or be subjected to only a 6-week program. According to legislation passed in 2009, a person convicted of a wet reckless who has previously been convicted of a DUI or wet reckless must participate in a court ordered program for 9-months. If a person is convicted of a second DUI, the court mandates attendance of an alcohol program anywhere from 18 to 30 months.

The Cons Of Pleading Wet Reckless

Although there may be many pros to pleading to a wet reckless, it is not in the person’s best interest to do so in every case. Moreover, some parts of a wet reckless are treated comparable to how you would be treated if you were convicted of a DUI.

A Wet Reckless Charge And Its Effect On Your Insurance

Your insurance will most likely treat your wet reckless as if you had been convicted of a regular DUI. This will result in higher premiums and you may also be denied coverage under your current policy.

Driver’s License Suspension Is Still Possible

A wet reckless may not lead the DMV to automatically suspend your license, but it can still do so. The DMV will suspend your license if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was above 0.08%, and you were unsuccessful at your DMV hearing.

Wet Reckless As A Previous Dui Offense In Subsequent Dui Process

Numerous convictions for DUI within a period of 10-years result in enhanced punishments. If you choose to plead down to a wet reckless, you must consider that it will be seen as a prior DUI conviction if you should be subject to any subsequent DUI charges.

When can I reduce my dui to a wet reckless?

As discussed above, a wet reckless charge is only available to you as a plea bargain. This means that the prosecution is the only one who can decide whether to offer you a wet reckless or not. The prosecution is not obligated to offer you a lesser charge, but prosecutors usually offer the plea bargain when their case is not as strong as they would like. If an individual has a clean criminal and driving record, the negotiating process for a wet reckless will be easier. Additionally, depending on the level of your BAC, the prosecution may be persuaded to offer you a wet reckless plea bargain. Another thing that may make a wet reckless plea-bargain more available to you is if you were very compliant with the arresting officers.

Still, you must remember that a wet reckless will not be available in every case. Having a skilled and experienced attorney will increase your chances at receiving a favorable outcome during the complicated negotiating process to obtain a wet reckless plea bargain. The attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm will be aggressive when they are negotiating with the prosecutor for the best possible outcome for you. Our attorneys will ensure that, if offered a plea bargain, you understand what is being offered to you, and whether it is in your best interest to take the deal. Additionally, our attorneys can assess your chances at getting a better deal, such as a dry reckless, or potentially getting your entire case dismissed. 

If You Or A Loved One Has Been Charged With A Dui, We Encourage You To Call The Orange County Dui Attorney Law Firm.

If you are arrested and charged with a DUI, whether it involved alcohol or drugs, we can provide you with the skilled and experienced attorneys that will devote themselves to getting your case dismissed. During the entire DUI process, our attorneys will work around the clock to provide you with the strongest defense to ensure a reduced charge and sentence by negotiating a plea bargain.

At the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm, we know that the DUI process is an overwhelming one. The stressfulness of being charged with a DUI may increase when your driver’s license is something you rely on to get you to work in order to provide for your family. Our experience criminal defense team of attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm will treat your case with the utmost care in order to get you the best possible result and help alleviate any stress you may have.

Contact the Orange County DUI attorney law firm at 949-377-2280, for your free DUI consultation.