When facing DUI charges, you can have the charges reduced to wet reckless through a plea bargain. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence and want the charges reduced, at the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we are here to help. We understand wet reckless, the things that make the prosecution accept it as an alternative for DUI charge, its pros and cons, and penalties, thus providing the best representation.

Legal Definition of Wet Reckless

Wet reckless is not a crime you can be detained for or primarily charged with by the prosecution. It is a plea deal for individuals accused of DUI under VC 23152 (a) or driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08% or above. Wet reckless is, therefore, a nickname for a standard DUI charge reduction. The plea deal is usually offered to 1st DUI offenders. The chances of getting a wet reckless if you are a 2nd DUI offender are very slim. But if you are successful, you can avoid mandatory jail time, hefty fines, and license suspension.

You will get a wet reckless if:

  • Your BAC level was .08% or higher
  • There is evidence the blood alcohol level was rising
  • You lack any primary drug or alcohol-related offenses in your past
  • The arresting officer lacked probable cause for the traffic stop
  • Chemical tests were not administered as per Title 17

When the prosecution realizes they have insufficient evidence, they will not be willing to proceed with the case because of fear of losing. They will agree to a plea bargain where you will be answerable to the law.

Differences Between Wet Reckless and Dry Reckless

In a wet reckless, the criminal record includes a notation indicating that there were drugs or alcohol involved in the offense, but in dry reckless cases, there is no notation. Also, wet reckless is a priorable offense, which means that if you are arrested for a subsequent DUI within the next ten years, upon conviction, you will be subject to enhanced penalties.

Getting a Wet Reckless Plea Bargain

The prosecution and the defendant agree on a plea bargain, and the court approves it. After all the parties have agreed, you will plead guilty or no contender to a charge of wet reckless. As per VC 23103.5, after the prosecutor has decided to wet reckless, they will note that there were drugs or alcohol involved in the offense. The notation is then sent to the DMV, who includes the wet reckless conviction in your record.

As mentioned earlier, repeat DUI offenders are not usually lucky to get a plea bargain. It depends on the type of criminal defense attorney on your side. Make sure you inform your attorney of all drug or alcohol-related convictions you have had in the past because they might interfere with your eligibility for the plea bargain. If your defense attorney knows all about your criminal history, he or she can use that knowledge to convince the judge or jury to approve the plea bargain.

Remember that the decision to agree to the plea deal or not depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. Mostly, it depends on whether you have a prior DUI or wet reckless conviction. You must assess the pros and cons of the plea deal to determine what suits you best. A wet reckless under some circumstances will be an advantage and, in others, a disadvantage. If you have a clean look back period or criminal record within the last ten years, agreeing to a wet reckless is the right decision. However, if you have many DUI priors in your lookback period, getting the charges reduced to wet reckless will subject you to severe penalties.

Pros of Pleading to a Wet Reckless Instead of a DUI

Some of the advantages of agreeing to a wet reckless plea deal include:

Shorter Jail Incarceration

A first DUI conviction carries a penalty of up to 180 days in jail while a second or subsequent DUI conviction carries at least six months’ incarceration and no more than 364 days. Wet reckless, on the other hand, incurs you a maximum of 90 days in jail. If you compare the jail time, you will realize a wet reckless conviction carries a lesser prison sentence. You will understand the difference in the penalties if you are sentenced to probation in place of jail time.

For a standard DUI conviction, a violation of the probation conditions will result in the revocation of probation and one hundred and eighty days’ incarceration. The period is double what you get for violating wet reckless conviction probation terms. A sentence to probation under wet reckless, a breach of the probation terms attracts a jail time of ninety days.

Less Compulsory Jail Time for Repeat Offenders

A wet reckless conviction when you have one or more prior convictions attracts mandatory jail time. The time of incarceration is less than a common DUI conviction for a repeat offender.  A repeat offender who gets a wet reckless conviction incurs a mandatory jail sentence of not less than five days. The mandatory jail sentence is not going to change despite the number of DUI convictions in your record within the last ten years.

A second DUI offender who is convicted of a DUI, on the other hand, is subject to a 90-day mandatory jail sentence while a third offender is subject to a minimum of one hundred and twenty days’ compulsory sentence. If you compare the necessary jail time, you will realize a wet reckless conviction carries a lighter sentence.

Shorter Probation Period

Wet reckless charge probation usually lasts for twelve to twenty-four months while a standard DUI charge probation lasts for between thirty-six to sixty months. Having a shorter probation period is an advantage because you get to apply for expungement early, and once the record is expunged, employers running a background check on you won’t find any criminal record. Note that the law prohibits employers from denying potential employees job opportunities because of their criminal history. However, this doesn’t mean you will get the job as a condition for the job; an employer will require you to have a clean criminal history.

Getting the charge reduced to wet reckless is the best way to go because, after one or two years of probation, you will be eligible for expungement, which means the conviction will last in your criminal record shorter than that of a person convicted to probation for a common DUI charge.

The Court will not Automatically Suspend Your License

A wet reckless conviction doesn’t result in mandatory driver’s license suspension by the court. On the other hand, if you are convicted of a DUI, the court will automatically suspend your driving privileges for six months, where it’s a first DUI. Second DUI offenders will face twenty-four months of license suspension or revocation while a third DUI offender will be subject to thirty-six months of license suspension.

Where your case involves the refusal to submit a sample for chemical testing, and you are under 21 years, the court will automatically suspend your license and deny you the opportunity to apply for an IID.  But for a wet reckless conviction, there is no license suspension, and you will still be eligible to apply for an IID.

Remember that even if you have a wet reckless and the court cannot suspend your driver’s license, the DMV can still go on with the license suspension if you don’t apply for a DMV hearing within ten days after the arrest. Requesting for a DMV hearing will have the license suspension put on hold until the trial is concluded.

Lower Fines

The maximum court fines you are going to pay after a wet reckless conviction is $1,000 and a minimum of $145. A DUI conviction, on the other hand, will attract court fines of at least $1,000 and a maximum of $3,000. A wet reckless conviction, therefore, gives you a chance to pay half of the court fines a DUI convict would pay.

Shorter DUI School

A California standard DUI conviction carries a penalty of mandatory DUI school for at least one hundred and twenty days. For wet reckless conviction, the convict only has to attend six weeks’ alcohol or drug classes. Note that if you have a prior DUI, a wet reckless conviction will subject you to as much as nine months of DUI school. The duration is still low compared to the 18 to 36 months of DUI classes for a DUI conviction.

No Mandatory IID Installation

If you are convicted for a wet reckless charge, it is up to the court to decide whether you should install an ignition interlock device or not. For repeat DUI offenders, on the other hand, a conviction means necessary fixing of an IID in your vehicle. An IID comes with a lot of embarrassments and costs of installation.

Note that a wet reckless conviction doesn’t carry the same social stigma as a DUI conviction. Additionally, with wet reckless, you don’t have to worry about compulsory commercial driver’s license suspension.

Disadvantages of a Wet Reckless Conviction

Although reckless driving conviction has its benefits over a DUI conviction, there are instances when the two are treated the same. These instances include:

  • A wet reckless still amounts as a prior in a subsequent driving under the influence charge.
  • The DMV can still suspend your license
  • You get to receive two points in your DMV record
  • A wet reckless is treated as a DUI by car insurance companies
  • Potential employers can yet discover the conviction

Aspects Affecting the Chances of a Plea Bargain

At times the prosecutor might have political pressure to convict DUI repeat offenders. During this time, getting a plea bargain is almost impossible. However, if the prosecution has a weak case, your attorney can poke holes in their evidence to push them to agree to a plea deal. Distinctive alleviating circumstances and procedural flaws during DUI arrest and investigation are some of the factors that can help override political pressure to push the prosecution into offering a plea deal.

Keep in mind that not every DUI offender is awarded a plea deal. Your attorney has to bargain for you to be awarded the benefit.

Other Plea Bargain Options

Apart from wet reckless, the prosecution can offer the following plea bargains:

  1. Dry Reckless

It is a misdemeanor charge applied in cases where a driver is driving recklessly in a manner that portrays blatant disregard of the safety of other road users and property. You face these charges if you successfully convince the prosecution to lower your DUI charges in a plea deal.

The deal is awarded by the prosecution where they have a weak case, or there was a violation of Title 17 regulations. An excellent attorney will argue that the results from various tests conducted are unreliable because they didn’t follow the required procedure.

Dry reckless has its advantages over wet reckless. The first advantage is that dry reckless is not a priorable offense. It means that if you have a prior dry reckless are you are charged with a subsequent; the second conviction will still be considered as a first, which means no enhanced penalties. Wet reckless, on the other hand, is priorable.

Also, a dry reckless is not a DUI conviction because it is not an alcohol or drug-related charge. Insurers will, therefore, not cancel their policy after a sentence for the offense. In some instances, however, the premiums might increase but not as much as they could under a wet reckless conviction.

The other benefit of a dry reckless is that it doesn’t result in license suspension because it is not alcohol-related. Insurers are not mainly concerned with dry reckless because it doesn’t involve driving under the influence. Professional and commercial driver’s licenses are also not affected by a dry reckless. If you are a commercial driver, after you get a dry reckless conviction, you don’t have to worry about inquiries on your sentence.

  1. Exhibition of Speed

The offense can be charged on its own or can be used as a plea bargain in a drunk driving charge. As per PC 23109, it is illegal for a person to accelerate or drive at a rate that is unsafe and dangerous, which might make the person lose control of the vehicle putting lives in danger. The person accelerating the car does so when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Note that what matters, in this case, is accelerating the car too fast. You don't need to exceed the speed limit to be convicted for the charge. The maximum fine that you pay for the speed exhibition is $500. The amount of punishment is minimal compared to what you pay after a DUI conviction.

During prosecution of the case, the prosecuting party will demonstrate the following aspects:

  • You were driving a car
  • During the driving, you accelerated or propelled the vehicle at speed considered dangerous or unsafe.
  • Your intentions at the time of speeding were to show off or impress
  • You aided in the commission of a crime

If you get a speed exhibition charge, you will be subject to lesser jail time, probation for two years instead of the 3-5 years for a DUI, and lack of priorability.

  1. Publicly Drunk

California PC 624f prohibits people from risking the safety of other people and property by being intoxicated to the extent you fail to exercise care. PC 624f is violated where you prevent people from enjoying their rights in a public place due to your drunk. For the prosecution to convict you of the offense, they must prove these elements:

  • You were deliberately under the influence
  • At the time of intoxication, you were in a public place
  • Because of being drunk, you prevented or obstructed the free use of sidewalks, streets, or general ways.

You can, however, defend yourself against these charges by first arguing that you were not in a place open to the public. You can argue that you were inside your hotel room or at your home when you engaged in the conduct.

Again, you can claim that the intoxication was not deliberate. You can assert that you were not aware that what you were drinking was alcohol. Further, you can argue that someone slipped a drug in your drink, and that’s what caused the intoxication.

It is also possible to assert that the police had no probable cause for arrest. You can claim the police violated your constitutional rights because of stopping or apprehending you for no reason. If the detention were illegal, all the evidence gathered by the police would be removed from the case. The prosecution ends up with a weak argument that you can easily win or get a plea deal for a reduced charge.

The penalties for PC 624f violation include as much as $1000 court fines, informal probation, and no more than 180 days in jail.

Find a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me

California has strict DUI laws. The best way to avoid punishment for violating these statutes is by contacting Los Angeles Criminal Attorney at 424-333-0943. Our attorney will enlighten you on the advantages of a wet reckless as a plea deal.