23103.5 (a) If the prosecution agrees to a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a charge of [Reckless Driving] in satisfaction of, or as a substitute for, an original charge of [DUI], 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.
California Vehicle Code 23103.5 is better known as “wet” reckless driving. This is a special charge that is never used during arrest. It’s only used when someone accused of drunk driving bargains their case down to reckless driving. When this happens, the plea bargain must clearly state whether alcohol (or a drug) was involved, and this will change how the courts handle the charge.
Consequences of Wet Reckless
Wet reckless driving carries the same penalties as VC 23103 (“dry” reckless), plus additional penalties. These include:
- Five days to three months in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Probation for up to two years
- Mandatory DUI school (although the court can waive this in some cases)
Additionally, your wet reckless conviction will count as a “prior DUI” if you are ever convicted of a DUI charge in the future. In other words, if you get a DUI within 10 years of your wet reckless conviction, both the courts and the DMV will treat it as your second DUI.
Advantages over DUI
Despite the penalties listed above, it’s far better to be convicted of wet reckless driving than DUI. For example:
- No license suspension. All DUI charges carry mandatory license suspension. Reckless driving does not.
- Less jail time. Even a first time DUI can involve up to six months of jail. Reckless driving is half that.
- Less probation. DUI probation lasts three to five years, up to five times longer than probation for reckless driving.
- Less expensive. The minimum fine for DUI is almost three times that of reckless driving. And even if the maximum fine is used, it’s far more expensive in a DUI case because of the special fees added by the court.
- Little or no DUI school. The “education program” required for DUI lasts anywhere from 3 months to 30 months. In a reckless driving case, it can be as short as six weeks or it may be waived altogether.
- No mandatory sentence enhancements. Repeat DUIs have tougher sentences than first time DUIs. Repeat reckless driving convictions always have the same potential sentence.
You can learn more about the differences between wet reckless driving and DUI here.
If you’ve been accused of DUI, a good lawyer may be able to help you bargain it down to a “wet reckless” charge or potentially win your case altogether. Let us connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.