If you have been arrested for DUI in Orange County, you may be wondering what a “wet reckless” plea entails. Many individuals have heard of the term wet reckless in regards to a DUI, however, not many individuals know what it actually means. Wet reckless is a unique term of law because it is not an offense you can be arrested for or charged with. Rather, it is a charge you can plea down to after being charged with the higher offense of DUI.
If you end up pleading down to a wet reckless, you will be convicted of violating California Vehicle Code 23103, or Reckless Driving, an offense commonly referred to as a dry reckless. However, your conviction will be recorded in your criminal record that the underlying event involved alcohol and/ or drugs. Thus, a wet reckless can be seen as a reckless driving charge with alcohol involved.
Pleading down to a wet reckless can carry various advantages, in comparison to being found guilty of DUI. The biggest benefit of a wet reckless plea is that the penalties are often less serious than those associated with a DUI conviction. For example, a wet reckless carries lower fines, shorter periods on probation, and a shorter period of incarceration. Additionally, with a wet reckless charge, your license will not be suspended automatically, as it would with a DUI conviction.
On the other hand, a wet reckless plea bargain is not always the best option and can carry its own disadvantages. For example, your insurance premiums may increase after a wet reckless plea bargain. Also, a wet reckless still counts as a related offense to a DUI and will be counted as a previous DUI when the court determines your punishment for a subsequent DUI conviction. This means that if you are later convicted of a DUI, it will be counted as a second offense, and you will face harsher punishments. Thus, if you have a strong defense for your case, pleading down to a wet reckless may not be beneficial if you can avoid a conviction at trial.
For this reason, it is important to consult with a DUI attorney if you have not already been arrested. An attorney can advise you on how to move forward in your case, and if pleading to a wet reckless would be in your best interest. For nearly three decades the attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm have represented clients in DUI cases throughout Southern California. If you read this article and still have any unanswered questions, we encourage you to call our firm and schedule a FREE initial consultation.
Wet Reckless – Understanding California Vehicle Code 23103.5
A way to view a wet reckless is as a less serious DUI. Wet reckless is usually the result of plea bargain negotiations after an individual is arrested for DUI. As previously stated, you cannot be arrested for a wet reckless offense. Stated another way, a wet reckless offense can never be the initial crime an individual was arrested for, it can only be a charge an individual pleads down to. Your record will only have a conviction for reckless driving (VC22103) on it, with a sub point stating that the incident involved alcohol or drugs.
Now that we have provided you with an overview of what a wet reckless is, the following information will state when, and why pleading to a wet reckless can be beneficial in your case.
The Benefits Of A Wet Reckless
People usually ask if they should take a plea deal for a wet reckless or not. The best answer is that it varies from case to case. There are numerous factors that should be taken into account prior to pleading to a wet reckless. Nonetheless, pleading down to a wet reckless can have its benefits, which include the following:
Less Jail Time
It is obvious that the less time you spend in jail, the better. A wet reckless carries a 90-day maximum jail sentence. That is significantly less time than the maximum sentence for a first offense DUI, which is 6 months. The maximum jail sentence will increase as the number of DUI offenses you are convicted of increase. Nevertheless, 90 days in comparison to 6 months is a significant difference in jail time. Also, the reduced jail time associated with a wet reckless will play a big role if your punishment includes probation. If you violate the terms of your probation, you may be required to serve jail time. However, you may only be sent to jail for the maximum sentence allowed for your conviction. Thus, the 90-day maximum sentence carried by a wet reckless may play a big role, even if you were initially required to serve little or no jail time.
If you have prior DUIs, pleading down to a wet reckless can still have an effect on the amount of jail time assigned to you. California law states that a second DUI offense holds a minimum jail sentence of 90 days, and a third DUI offense’s minimum jail sentence is 120 days. No matter how many previous DUIs you have, a wet reckless always carries a maximum jail sentence of 5 days.
A wet reckless probation is reduced in comparison to that of a DUI. Usually, a DUI in California mandates that an individual be on probation for a period of 3 to 5 years. In California, if a charge is pleaded down to a wet reckless, then the probationary period is only 1 to 3 years. This is beneficial to those who are searching for employment, since employers will know if you are on active probation through any background checks. Moreover, an individual is usually unable to expunge a conviction until they have completed the probation period.
A DUI and a wet reckless can carry a fine of $1,000 in California. However, it is usual for a person who pled down to a wet reckless to pay less than $1,000. Also, there are other “penalty assessments” that are required to be paid after being convicted of a DUI. Generally, after an individual is convicted of a DUI, the individual may be required to pay $3,000 in fines and assessments. When one pleads down to a wet reckless, it is common that the individual only pays half of the fines that one convicted of a DUI would pay.
License Suspension Is Not Mandatory
A first offense DUI always requires the offender’s driver’s license being suspended by the DMV. If the offender refuses to submit to a blood test, or was under the age of 21 at the time the offender was arrested, if he or she is convicted, the individual can face a 1-year driver’s license suspension. Moreover, the offender may face additional penalties, including a jail sentence and/ or a probation violation, if the individual is caught operating a motor vehicle with a suspended driver’s license.
In California, a wet reckless does not mandate that an offender’s driver’s license be suspended automatically. This can be beneficial for anyone who refused a breath or blood test and is facing a driver’s license suspension of 1 year. Moreover, a wet reckless conviction will not affect your personal and professional life as much as a DUI conviction would. On the other hand, it is important to understand that, an individual who pleads down to a wet reckless can still be subject to a driver’s license suspension if the individual’s BAC was over .08% or if the individual does not prevail at the DMV hearing.
Less Dui School
A first offense DUI in California mandates that the offender complete a 12-week alcohol education program. If your charge is successfully plead down to a wet reckless, you may be subject to attending an alcohol education program for only 6 weeks, or in some cases, avoid the classes entirely. After certain legislation passed in 2009, someone convicted of a wet reckless with a previous DUI, or wet reckless conviction is required to participate in a court ordered program for 9 months. An individual convicted of a second DUI offense requires the offender to attend an alcohol education program for anywhere between 18 to 30 months.
The Disadvantages Of Wet Reckless
Although pleading down to a wet reckless has many advantages, there are cases where it is not in your best interest to do so. Additionally, some parts of a wet reckless are treated exactly as if you had been convicted of a DUI.
Wet Reckless And Your Insurance
Often, your insurance provider will treat a wet reckless conviction similar to a DUI conviction. Wet reckless plea can lead to an increase in your insurance premiums, and you may eve result in the loss of coverage under your current policy.
You May Still Face A License Suspension
Although your license will not be automatically suspended after a wet reckless conviction, there are some cases where the Department of Motor Vehicles will still suspend your license. The cases where an individual’s license may still be suspended include where the offender’s BAC of .08% or higher, and if the offender does not prevail at the DMV hearing.
Wet Reckless Will Count As A Previous Dui Offense
An individual may be subject to increased punishments if he or she obtains multiple DUI convictions during a 10-year time period. If you decide that you wish to plead down to a wet reckless, it is imperative that you understand that the wet reckless conviction will be treated as a previous DUI offense if you are charged with any subsequent DUIs.
Under What Conditions Can My Dui Be Reduced To A Wet Reckless?
As previously stated, an individual’s conviction of a wet reckless offense can only come as a result of pleading down to it. As such, the prosecutor needs to agree to let you plead down to the wet reckless offense. The prosecutor has no obligation to offer an individual a wet reckless plea bargain, however, individuals are offered this deal often when they have a strong defense against the DUI charges that have been failed against the individual. In negotiating a plea deal, if the individual has a clean criminal and driving history, it can help your attorney leverage any evidence to convince the prosecutor to offer you a wet reckless plea deal. Moreover, if your BAC level was low, then that can be another fact that can be used by your attorney to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor. Further, if the individual was compliant and cooperative with law enforcement officials, it may have a significant effect on the negotiations to acquire a plea deal.
Nonetheless, you must understand that not every individual facing DUI charges will be offered a wet reckless. Since a plea deal requires some negotiating, having an experienced and skilled attorney represent you can help increase the possibility that the prosecutor offers you a plea deal. Our team of attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm will aggressively negotiate for you and will explain what the deal offered to you entails. As previously stated, you must remember that for all the advantages a wet reckless plea offers, it is not always the best option for an individual. Moreover, in some cases the prosecutor may offer a better deal than a wet reckless, such as a dry reckless, or even have your entire case dismissed. Our lawyers will stand by you at every stage of the DUI process and negotiate on your behalf, in order to get you the best possible deal or outcome for your case.
If You Are Facing Dui Charges, Do Not Hesitate To Contact The Orange County Dui Attorney Law Firm.
If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, you should hire an experienced attorney to represent you. Our attorneys can provide you with the best possible defense for you case and may even get your case dismissed. The attorneys will stand beside you at each stage of the DUI process and negotiate with the prosecutor to obtain the best deal available to you.
At the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm, we understand that facing DUI charges can be a stressful time. Our attorneys will review the facts of your case and will work with you to get you the best possible outcome for your case, and decide whether a wet reckless plea-bargain deal is the best option for you.
Call our office today at 949-377-2280 to schedule your free DUI consultation.