The Wet Reckless as an Alternative to a DUI Conviction

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The Wet Reckless

California Vehicle Code Section 23103 prohibits driving on a roadway in a manner that is reckless or is with reckless disregard for the safety of others. Vehicle code section 23103.5 adds to this by providing a reckless driving charge which can be substituted through the plea bargain process for a DUI conviction, this is what is commonly referred to as a “wet reckless.” In other words, if you are facing prosecution for a DUI, your attorney may be able to arrange a plea bargain in which you plead guilty, or no contest, to a “wet reckless” charge of VC 23013.5.

Advantages of a Wet Reckless

A “wet reckless” conviction has some benefits over a DUI. First, a wet reckless conviction in court does not carry an automatic license suspension initiated by the court like a conviction of vehicle code section 23152 does. So, if you win your DMV hearing and you get a wet reckless conviction in court, you will avoid a license suspension. Even if you lose your DMV hearing and the DMV suspends your license, you will not face an additional suspension by the court if you are only convicted of a “wet reckless.” Second, DUI convictions carry mandatory minimum penalties under the California Vehicle Code. You can avoid these minimum sentences with a wet reckless which unties the district attorney’s hands to offer a plea bargain with less jail time. Third, wet reckless charges often come with a shorter alcohol class requirement than a DUI. Fourth, the fines are often lower with a wet reckless conviction in most cases these fines are substantially lower. Finally, many people believe that a reckless driving conviction is a less harmful blemish on one’s criminal record than a DUI.

A Wet Reckless and Subsequent DUI’s

One unique feature of a “wet reckless” is that is “priorable.” This means if you are charged with a DUI after previously being convicted of a “wet reckless” within a 10 year period the wet reckless will be considered a DUI and the new DUI charge will be treated as a subsequent DUI within 10 years. This is the downside to a “wet reckless” is that it is treated as a DUI if you get another DUI within 10 years.

A “Wet Reckless” Vs. a “Dry Reckless”

In some, relatively rare, instances, a district attorney may be willing to offer a plea bargain to vehicle code section 23103 in as an alternative to a DUI. This is what is called a “dry reckless” when a regular reckless driving charge is substituted for a DUI through the plea bargain process. In general, district attorneys tend to be very reluctant to agree to such plea bargains unless their case is very week. The reason for this is that a “dry reckless” is not “priorable” so a subsequent DUI within 10 years is treated as a first DUI.

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