"Wet Reckless" Versus a DUI

Summer is here and so are the pool parties, barbecues, and beach outings we all enjoy here in Southern California.  Drunk driving arrests tend to skyrocket during the summer months. Inevitably, most new clients ask about resolving their case as a "Wet Reckless" instead of standard first offense DUI.  In many cases, this is highly possible. Resolving a DUI as a Wet Reckless has many benefits.  Here they are:  

 

 

 

Wet Reckless (Veh. Code, § 23103.5)

vs.

DUI (Veh. Code, § 23152)

  1. Shorter County Jail Sentence:  Most first-offense DUIs in Riverside County come with jail time, typically in the range of 1-10 days.  While jail time can often be served on house-arrest, work release, or negotiated away altogether, a Wet Reckless plea often carries little to no jail time.  
  2. Lesser Fines:  The maximum fine for both a Wet Reckless and DUI is $1,000.  However, with a DUI, a court will typically impose penalty assessments that can knock the $1,000 fine up to almost $3,000.  A Wet Reckless fine is typically half ($1,500) of a typical first-offense DUI fine.  
  3. Shorter to No DUI Classes:  On a first-offense DUI, a court will typically impose a mandatory three-month DUI class.  However, with a Wet Reckless, a court will impose a shorter (6 week) or no DUI class at all.  This also saves money.  
  4. No Mandatory License Suspension:  If you're convicted of a standard first offense DUI, the Court will send notice to the DMV and mandate that your license be suspended for 6 months (although a restricted license is available after 30 days of suspension).  With a Wet Reckless, the Court is not required to send notice to the DMV and will not mandate a license suspension.  However, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was at or above .08%, the DMV will still attempt to restrict your license regardless of the Wet Reckless plea.  As such, it is very important to request a DMV hearing with respect to your license suspension with the DMV within 10 days of your arrest and to hire an attorney to fight the license suspension.  If your attorney wins your DMV hearing, there will be no license suspension whatsoever.  

Clearly, a Wet Reckless plea offers many benefits to those accused of a DUI.  Further, they are not only available to first-offenders, but can be negotiated for multiple offenders as well. There are a few caveats, however.  First, a Wet Reckless still counts as a prior DUI.  Meaning, if your DUI attorney negotiates a Wet Reckless plea, that Wet Reckless conviction counts as a prior DUI if you're subsequently charged with another DUI within 10 years.  Second, your insurance company may count the Wet Reckless as a DUI for its underwriting purposes.  Third, professional licensing agencies, such as the Board of Registered Nursing, may still proceed with an accusation against your professional license based upon a Wet Reckless plea. However, the nature of the accusation may be less severe as Wet Reckless pleas are generally negotiated in less severe cases.  

Can I Get a Wet Reckless Plea?

Wet Reckless pleas are most often available in first-offense cases with a relatively low BAC (.08-.10%).  However, other factors may lend themselves to the ability of a DUI Attorney to negotiate a Wet Reckless plea.  For instance, the District Attorney may have a weakness in their case - i.e., the breathalyzer machine may have been out of calibration at the time it was used on the alleged offender.  Rather than risk losing at trial, a District Attorney may agree to a Wet Reckless plea to secure a reduced conviction.  

If you or a loved one have been accused of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), please contact me now or use the Free Case Evaluation Form below to discuss your case.  Enjoy your summer and be safe!  

Posted by Mike Donaldson.