“Wet reckless” is simply a nickname for a charge of reckless driving under California Vehicle Code § 23103. Wet reckless is not a formal charge under any California statute but an informal term for a reduction of a DUI charge.
Anyone arrested and charged with DUI who has a good defense may potentially have their charge reduced to a wet reckless. If the prosecution believes it does not have a strong case, it may offer a plea bargain for a wet reckless charge under § 23103 rather than § 23152, driving under the influence. Experienced criminal defense counsel can make the difference in defending a DUI charge and obtaining the best possible result for a defendant, which may include reducing a DUI charge to a wet reckless.
Offenders ultimately charged with a wet reckless are still subject to both a fine and/or imprisonment. Persons convicted of the offense of reckless driving are subject to jail time for from five to 90 days in county jail rather than state prison. Fines range from one hundred forty-five dollars ($145) to a maximum of one thousand dollars ($1,000).
Obviously, it is advantageous for a defendant to take responsibility for committing a wet reckless rather than a DUI. The minimum fine for a DUI is higher ($390) than a wet reckless fine. The potential terms of probation for a DUI are three to five years, while for a wet reckless, they range from one to two years.
Potential jail time differs for a DUI and a Wet Reckless conviction. A DUI conviction for a first time offense may result in up to six months in jail and up to a year or more for subsequent convictions, while a reckless driving conviction mandates a term of not more than ninety 90 days.
There is no mandatory court-ordered driver’s license suspension, and the SB1176 six-week alcohol education program is shorter than the required DUI program. Also, a wet reckless does not require the mandatory installation of a California ignition interlock device.
Perhaps, most importantly, a DUI does not appear on the driver’s criminal record. Experienced criminal defense counsel can make a difference in helping a defendant avoid a DUI charge by reducing it to a charge of reckless driving, i.e., a wet reckless.
If the prosecution agrees to a plea bargain where it charges a violation of § 23103 in satisfaction of, or as a substitute for, an original charge of a violation of California Vehicle Code § 23152, the prosecution must make a statement that indicates whether alcohol was consumed or a drug ingested or administered by the defendant in connection with the charge of reckless driving. Thus, a wet reckless includes a written reference by the State noting the use and involvement of alcohol and/or drugs.
The distinction between dry and wet reckless is important because wet reckless is a “priorable offense” whereas a dry reckless is not. Thus, if the defendant is convicted of a DUI within the next ten years, California’s DUI lookback period, California law will treat the charge as a repeat offense. A repeat DUI offender faces increased penalties for a second or third DUI.
John Patrick Dolan has handled everything from traffic tickets to death penalty murder cases. Mr. Dolan has represented California motorists charged with DUI for over 40 years. He is a recognized California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and a true courtroom veteran of DUI cases. Call the Dolan Law Offices today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here. Happy Thanksgiving from the Dolan Law Offices!