If you are accused of DUI and the case against you is strong, one approach your lawyer may take is to try to get the charge reduced to a less serious offense. “Wet reckless” is a nickname often used for reckless driving involving alcohol (or drugs). Although similar to a DUI, it has much less serious penalties, and reducing your charge to a wet reckless can make it easier to put your life together and move on.
How does a “wet reckless” charge work?
Wet reckless is charged under California Vehicle Code 23103.5. It is not an offense you can be charged with at arrest—it is only used when the prosecution agrees to reduce a DUI charge. As such, it is a type of plea bargain. Plea bargains are deals where you agree to a less serious offense than the one you were originally charged with.
In most ways, wet reckless works just like a reckless driving charge, which is undeniably a “better” or less serious charge than DUI. This is because the fines will cost you less money, the probation period is shorter, the jail sentences are shorter and you may not have to go to jail at all. You may even be able to keep your driver’s license.
However, it’s important to understand that a wet reckless is still a misdemeanor crime, and will appear on your record as such. It does come with downsides, including fines and probation. Most importantly, it will still count as a DUI on your record if you are ever arrested for drink driving again in the future. You will be treated as a repeat offender even though you have never been convicted of DUI.
The best outcome in any DUI case is to beat the charge altogether. When that isn’t possible, however, a wet reckless plea is often the second best option.
What are the penalties for wet reckless in Los Angeles? Are they better than DUI?
Consequences of a wet reckless are considered much better than those of a DUI. Let’s look at them side by side:
- Wet reckless has no mandatory jail sentence. You can get up to 6 months in jail for a first time DUI.
- Wet reckless has no mandatory license suspension. All DUIs carry license suspension.
- 2 years or less on probation. DUI has 3-5 years required probation.
- Fines max out at $1,000. DUI fines and fees can costs thousands.
- Wet reckless requires just 12 hours of traffic school. DUIs require months or even years classes.
The bottom line is that a wet reckless charge costs you less money, impacts your life less, and often allows the accused driver to return to a normal life right away. It does not have to derail your life the way a DUI will.
Who is most likely to get a wet reckless plea deal?
Like all plea bargains, you can only get a wet reckless deal if the prosecutor agrees to it. You have to negotiate with them, usually by having a good DUI lawyer represent you. Prosecutors have to have a reason to offer a deal—otherwise they will just push for a full DUI conviction in court. But prosecutors are busy and only want to pursue winning cases. if you can show the prosecutor that it would be hard to convict you, or that it isn’t worth their time, a wet reckless is one of the most common plea deals you can be offered.
In general, you are most likely to get a wet reckless offer if you have a DUI lawyer and at least one of the following things is true:
- This is your first time being arrested for DUI
- Your last DUI arrest was more than 10 years ago
- Your BAC (blood alcohol content) was close to the legal limit—not much higher than .08%
- You were not given a chemical test so your BAC is unknown
- Your lawyer has successfully gotten some of the evidence against you suppressed, or
- The evidence against you is shaky and might not hold up in court
Most wet reckless deals are offered to first-time suspects.
What if I have previous DUIs, can I still get a wet reckless deal?
Your chance of getting a wet reckless deal is much lower if you have a previous DUI on your record. However, it does happen, and if you can get one, the benefits to you are huge. This is because a second-time DUI has much higher penalties than a first. But a wet reckless doesn’t count as a “second” DUI, so none of the extra penalties are thrown at you. It’s a great deal that can dramatically change your case.
In general, repeat DUI drivers will only get a wet reckless if they have a DUI lawyer and the case against them is weak.
How do I get a plea offer for a wet reckless charge?
The best way is to have a DUI lawyer represent you. Prosecutors know that defendants without lawyers are unlikely to win at court. Most defendants don’t have the training to suppress evidence, question breathalyzer results, or take any other steps that would help strengthen their case. As a result, defendants without lawyers get plea “bargains” that often aren’t bargains at all.
A DUI lawyer can tell you if your case is likely to qualify for a wet reckless plea deal. Then they can investigate the evidence against you and find its weaknesses. Once they have built a case, they will have the leverage they need to demand a deal from the prosecutor.
Have you been charged with DUI? We can 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.