Wet reckless and dry reckless are two potential downgraded charges you may be able to plead to after a DUI arrest. Both represent a significantly lesser penalty when compared to even a “simple” DUI conviction. However, there are key differences between wet reckless and dry reckless charges.
The availability of these pleas depends heavily on the unique circumstances of your case. You may be more likely to receive these charges if you have a skilled DUI lawyer representing you. To learn more about your defense options, connect with us using the contact form on this site or by calling (310) 862-0199.
A wet reckless is a type of reckless driving charge, but it isn’t one you can be charged with at the time of your arrest. Under California Vehicle Code 23103.5, a person found to be driving under the influence of alcohol may be able to plead to this lesser offense. Likewise, individuals who are found to have been driving with other drugs in their system may be able to plead to a wet reckless.
Wet Reckless Penalties
The penalties you face if convicted of a wet reckless offense include:
- Between $145 and $1,000 in fines
- Between 0 and 90 in jail OR one to two years of probation
- 12 hours of traffic school
While these penalties are serious, they are less severe than those you would face with even the least punishing “simple” DUI. Compared to a DUI, a wet reckless has:
- Lower out of pocket costs (lower fines and assessments, no ignition interlock device installation, shorter required classes)
- Less jail time (a first DUI can lead to six months behind bars)
- No mandatory license suspension through the courts
However, your license may still end up being suspended if you take a plea bargain. The DMV has an automatic suspension process for any driver arrested under suspicion of DUI. If you don’t request a hearing within 10 days of your arrest and win the hearing, you may lose your license without ever being convicted of a DUI.
A dry reckless is another way of describing a reckless driving charge when the driver had initially been arrested for a DUI. A dry reckless charge is the same sort of charge if you had been arrested for any type of unsafe driving. In instances of suspected DUI, dry reckless deals are usually only cut if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) below the legal limit of 0.08%.
Dry Reckless Penalties
If you plead to a dry reckless offense, you face:
- Two points on your driver’s license
- Between $145 and $1,000 in fines
- Either zero days in jail, OR a sentence between five and 90 days
While these penalties are lower than even a wet reckless charge, a dry reckless has an additional advantage.
A Key Difference
While you avoid many of the penalties and other problems of a DUI when you accept a wet reckless plea deal, you don’t avoid them entirely. A wet reckless charge counts as a DUI for any subsequent DUI convictions in a ten-year period following your initial arrest, which can substantially enhance any penalties you face in the future. Your insurance company is likely to count the wet reckless offense as a DUI for the purposes of coverage rates and availability.
A dry reckless plea deal avoids this. It is able to do so because the charge does not include the mention of alcohol or other drugs in your system. The additional points on your license may still increase your insurance, but a dry reckless conviction on your record will not count against you if you are arrested for a DUI in the future.
Getting a Wet Reckless or Dry Reckless Plea Bargain
There are two key factors that impact your ability to get a wet reckless or dry reckless plea bargain:
- Your BAC at the time of your arrest
- The strength of your defense
A lower BAC increases the likelihood of being able to negotiate for a downgraded charge. The prosecution has discretion about what to offer you and may not be willing to downgrade your charge if you had a BAC well above the legal limit.
Likewise, the prosecution might not be willing to negotiate with you directly. The prosecutor may believe that they can get the maximum penalty for you at a trial, so there is little incentive for them to strike a deal.
With a lawyer by your side, you can greatly improve your chances of getting a plea deal. Your lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf for a downgraded charge. A skilled DUI lawyer can point out flaws in the chain of evidence or with the procedure used by the arresting officer. These flaws decrease the chances of the prosecution winning at trial and makes them more likely to offer a favorable plea bargain.
If you’d like to see what a DUI lawyer can do for your case, call (310) 862-0199 to schedule your free evaluation today!