Wet reckless is an unusual charge that results from a plea bargain. You cannot be arrested with wet reckless, nor can the prosecution initially charge you with wet reckless unless there is a plea bargain to get a DUI charge reduced. If you have been arrested for a DUI offense in Los Angeles, CA and want the charges reduced, reach out to us at Leah Legal. We understand wet reckless, why and when the prosecution accepts it as an alternative DUI charge, its advantages, and penalties, thus enabling us to give the best advice and guidance.
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Overview of Wet Reckless
Wet reckless is a plea bargain to people being charged with driving under the influence as codified under Vehicle Code 23152(a), or drunk driving with a BAC level of 0.08% or higher under VC 23152(b). The DUI reduced charge is often filed as a misdemeanor after a plea bargain, and its penalties are lesser than those of driving under the influence charge. If you get multiple wet reckless convictions; however, the charges become felony wet reckless, and the fines and penalties are harsher.
Reasons Why Defendants can Get Wet Reckless Pleas Deal
In reduced drunk driving conviction, it is not mandatory that the offender was driving recklessly or were intoxicated. All that is required is to take a plea deal. The prosecution will agree to a plea deal if:
- The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of the offender was or above .08%,
- There is proof of rising levels of blood alcohol,
- You have no significant history of drug or alcohol-related offenses,
- There was no priorable cause of your traffic stop,
- The chemical test was not conducted properly according to the California Regulation Code, Title 17.
No prosecutor will be willing to move forward with a case they are not guaranteed of winning. In case the evidence is insufficient, or there were procedural errors, the prosecutor will agree to a plea bargain because with this, the defendant will be answerable to the law. A weak case, on the other hand, might see the defendant walk free.
If both parties agree on a plea deal, the court must also approve the agreement after which the defendant pleads guilty or no contest to reckless driving. Under Vehicle Code 23103.5, once the prosecutor has agreed to plead guilty of drunk driving, or driving with a BAC of .08% or higher as an alternative for the original DUI charge, they will note that there was a drug or alcohol use by the offender about the offense. The note is sent to the DMV about the wet reckless conviction and included in your criminal record.
If someone has multiple previous DUI convictions, the prosecution might turn down your wet reckless plea bargain. Before agreeing to a plea, make sure your DUI criminal defense attorney knows the truth about your “look back” period or criminal history, to find a perfect way to convince the judge or jury to reduce the original drunk driving charges.
Before going for a plea bargain to get a wet reckless conviction, you must evaluate its benefits and demerits. In certain circumstances, a reduced DUI charge will be an advantage, and in other scenarios a disadvantage. If you have three or four wet reckless convictions in the last ten years, it is an indicator your “look back” period is not clean and a later wet reckless conviction will lead to more severe punishment. However, if the “look back” period is clean with no prior wet reckless conviction, agreeing to wet reckless is the best idea.
Advantages of “Wet Reckless” Plea Deal to the Defendant
- No mandatory court order for driver’s license revocation or suspension
After an offender has received a wet reckless conviction, the court will not suspend their license. Unlike wet reckless conviction, a DUI conviction will lead to up to half a year license suspension for a first time DUI offenders, 24 months and 36 months license suspension respectively for second and third time DUI offenders.
Also, things like refusing to take a chemical test or driving under the influence when you are 21 years old or below can trigger suspension of license with no obligation to apply for a restricted license. However, in wet reckless convictions, these aggravating factors cannot lead to license suspension. Instead, the court might issue an order for the offender to install an ignition interlock device in their car.
Although the court might not suspend your driver’s license in reduced charge conviction, the DMV can still suspend your license if you don’t request a DMV hearing or when you lose the trial. Therefore, retain your driving privileges by requesting an administrative per se hearing within ten days after the arrest. It will help keep your license suspension on hold until the DMV hearing is concluded.
- There is a shorter sentence than in a standard DUI sentence
If convicted of wet reckless, the maximum time you will spend in jail is three months (90 days). Compared to the six months (180 days) sentence for standard DUI conviction, the punishment for wet reckless is far much shorter. The difference between these sentences will make more sense for offenders who are sentenced to probation instead of jail time. Remember, in California; probation violation can lead to a maximum jail sentence.
For instance, a person who was sentenced to probation under wet reckless conviction will only serve 90 days for violating probation conditions, but for a person convicted under standard DUI, he or she will be sentenced to jail time of up to 180 days which is double the sentence for wet reckless.
- Wet reckless has Less mandatory jail time for repeat offenders
If you have one or more priorable offenses within ten years, there is mandatory jail time. The period is less in wet reckless conviction compared to DUI conviction. For wet reckless conviction, the offender serves a minimum of five days of mandatory jail time. However, in DUI convictions, the minimum mandatory jail term is ninety days for second offenders and one hundred and twenty days for third offenders.
- Shorter probation period
In wet reckless conviction, probation is one to two years. A typical DUI conviction sentence carries three to five-year probation. The conditions for this probation include:
- Community service
- Avoiding the use of drugs or alcohol,
- Attending an alcohol or drug treatment lessons.
- Lower fines
When convicted for wet reckless, the fines paid are one hundred and forty-five dollars ($145) to one thousand dollars ($1000). On the other hand, once the court fines you a maximum of one thousand dollars, penalty assessments are also imposed increasing the fine to a maximum of $3000 in DUI convictions. That way, when convicted under wet reckless, you end up paying half the fines being paid in DUI convictions.
- Shorter California DUI school with no mandatory driver’s license suspension
A convict under wet reckless in the first offense will attend a DUI school for six weeks. The period is shorter compared to DUI convicts who attend DUI school for eighteen to thirty months. However, it is critical to note that multiple wet reckless convictions can increase the DUI School period to 9 months.
- Avoid mandatory IID installation
Installation of IID under wet reckless is left at the discretion of the court, which means it not mandatory even for multiple offenders. Not installing an IID prevents embarrassment and the costs that come with calibration after every two months. For repeat DUI convicts, an ignition interlock device must be installed in their cars.
- Wet reckless has no mandatory suspension of a commercial driver’s license
If you are convicted under wet reckless, it is not must your commercial driving privileges to be suspended unless the two points that are added in your DMV record have reached the negligent operator limit.
Disadvantages of Wet Reckless Conviction
Wet reckless has its disadvantages too. The downsides are:
- Prospective employers can discover it,
- The DMV can still suspend your license,
- The DMV adds two points on your negligent operator limit,
- Vehicle insurers still consider it as a DUI
- It remains priorable for ten years
Other Plea Bargains that are related to Wet Reckless
- Publicly drunk
You will be violating California PC 624 (f) if you risk the safety of other individuals and property by being intoxicated to the extent of not exercising care. If you fail to use caution or prevent others from enjoying their public rights due to your intoxication, then you will be violating this law. To be convicted of a publicly drunk charge, the prosecution must prove the following elements:
- The defendant was intentionally under the influence.
- The defendant was under the influence in a public place like a mall or nightclub, and
- Due to intoxication, the defendant prevented, interfered, or obstructed the free use of sidewalks and open ways.
To fight publicly drunk charges, the defendant can use some of the following legal defenses:
- You were not in public
If the incident that led to arrest didn’t occur in a place open to the public like a nightclub, then the charges will not stand.
- You didn’t knowingly consume the alcohol or drugs
If someone slipped a drug in your drink or food without your consent, or if you ingested drink without knowledge that it contained alcohol, then you didn’t willfully ingest the substance that led to intoxication. Publicly drunk charges will be dismissed.
- Lack of probable cause
If the law enforcement officers arrested you without seeing any signs of you being a danger to yourself, the public or interfering or obstructing the use of public streets or ways, then the charges will be dismissed too.
The penalties for this conviction are a fine of up to $1000, informal probation, and up to six months in county jail. For repeat offenders, the sentence is at least 90 days in county jail or an alternative of two months in an alcohol treatment program.
- Speed exhibition
The type of plea bargain is under Penal Code 23109. According to this law, it is unlawful to accelerate a vehicle at a speed that can make you lose control of the car endangering the lives of others due to alcohol or intoxication. You would be charged with speed exhibition even if the car speed did not exceed the limit. All that is required is to prove that the driver accelerated too fast. Compared to a DUI charge, speed exhibition convictions fines are up to $500, which is far lower than typical DUI fines.
The elements of speed exhibition include:
- The defendant was driving a motor vehicle,
- During the time of driving, the defendant intentionally accelerated the car or propelled at speed in a manner deemed unsafe, or dangerous,
- The intention of over speeding or accelerating fast was to show off or impress, and
- The defendant helps someone commit a crime.
Speed exhibition benefits offenders in very many ways over DUI. These benefits include:
- Lesser fines of $500
- Probation of two years instead of three to five years,
- Less jail exposure, or
- Lack of priorability when someone picks up a subsequent DUI offense.
- Dry reckless
It is a misdemeanor charge that applies to drivers who portray to be driving without regard to the safety of other road users or property. A defendant is charged with dry reckless if he or she succeeds to have the DUI charge they were arrested for reduced during a plea deal.
The prosecutor will agree to this deal if they have a weak case and if Title 17 was violated. When any of the California regulations were violated in title 17, a defense lawyer can prove that the results were not accurate or have specific errors; hence, it's not reliable. In that case, the prosecutor might opt for a dry reckless charge.
Compared to wet reckless, dry reckless has its advantages. They include:
- Dry reckless is not a priorable offense while wet reckless is priorable.
If you are a second offender who has been previously convicted with a wet reckless charge, the sentence for the second offense will be enhanced due to the previous one. However, in a dry reckless conviction, even if you have a DUI conviction, the subsequent one will be deemed as a first offense.
- Auto insurers consider wet reckless as DUI conviction in most instances which leads to cancellation of a policy or increased premiums, but in dry reckless, the sentence is not deemed as drug or alcohol-related hence cannot lead to policy cancellation. However, at times the premiums might be increased but substantially.
- Dry reckless does not affect your driver’s license because it is not alcohol-related.
Wet reckless or DUI have their effects on the insurance and commercial driver’s licenses. However, with dry reckless, insurance companies will not be much concerned about it because it is not associated with drunk driving. So, if you are a commercial driver with a dry reckless conviction, you expect fewer inquiries about your sentence as compared to a wet reckless.
Wet Reckless Expungement
If you are wondering is a wet reckless criminal record can be cleared, the answer is yes. A convict can have a wet reckless conviction cleared or erased as codified in PC 1203.4. However, to be eligible for expungement, you must meet the following conditions:
- No pending criminal charges,
- Completed probation.
Once a person meets these conditions and the criminal record is cleared, he or she should not be afraid of saying they have never been convicted of drunk driving or wet reckless. However, a wet reckless will remain a priorable offense and will show if a subsequent DUI offense appears later within 120 months.
Obligations of Drivers Convicted with Wet Reckless
Wet reckless drivers must comply with specific state regulations. These regulations include:
- 12-hour individual counseling, or forty hours in group counseling which is monitored by the health care of California,
- First offenders must undergo a training program for at least 90 days, 180 days, or 270 days based on the chemical blood test results,
- A one and a half years program for second offenders where they undertake 52 hours of group therapy, six hours monitoring, weekly interviews, twelve hours training on the effects of drugs or alcohol, and eighteen months program education,
- DUI School program for thirty months for third and subsequent convicts, which includes twelve hours alcohol education program for three days plus 300 hours of community service plus individual interviews.
These regulations are not easy to adhere to, but with the right commitment, you can complete them and regain your driving privileges after a wet reckless conviction.
Defending Wet Reckless
Wet reckless is not a charge by itself. Instead, it is a strategy used by the defense for a plea bargain. Therefore, the offense cannot be dismissed; the only thing you can do is fight to have the penalties reduced.
Contact a DUI Defense Lawyer Near Me
California has one of the harshest drunk driving laws. To avoid being convicted of violating these laws, contact Leah Legal at 818-484-1100 to discuss your pending DUI case with one of our criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles, CA. Our attorneys will educate you on the benefits of taking a wet reckless plea bargain and other related pleas that can apply as your defense to lower the consequences of a DUI conviction.