A Wet Reckless is one way of reducing your DUI charges. Usually, prosecutors and defense attorneys reach an agreement (through a plea bargain) to reduce your DUI charges to a Wet Reckless charge. In most cases, this plea bargain deal arises when the defense team has strong evidence against the alleged DUI charges, and the prosecutors aren’t willing to lose their case. Either way, this plea bargain deal carries lesser consequences than a DUI charge, but you need to have an expert DUI defense attorney to help reduce your charges of driving under the influence. Get in touch with the Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm to help negotiate for this reduced DUI charge.

Wet Reckless Under Vehicle Code 23103.5

Vehicle Code 23103.5 VC authorizes the reduction of DUI charges to a Wet Reckless. If you are facing charges under Vehicle Code 23152(a) for operating a vehicle under the influence or Vehicle Code 23152 (b), operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or above, you may receive a plea bargain and have your DUI charges reduced to a Wet Reckless. However, the plea bargain will include a note on your criminal record indicating that the offense involved alcohol or drugs.

The inclusion of a note on your criminal record makes Wet Reckless different from a dry reckless, which is also a form of driving under influence plea bargain. A Wet Reckless qualifies as a DUI priorable offense. For example, if your first offense DUI charges are reduced to Wet Reckless, if you commit another DUI offense before ten years are over, you will face DUI charges for repeat offenders, as the Wet Reckless charge is priorable. On the other hand, a dry reckless under Vehicle Code 23103 does not include a note on your criminal record indicating that your offense involved alcohol or drugs. Therefore, a dry reckless charge is not a priorable DUI offense.

Before the approval of a Wet Reckless plea bargain, both the defendant and the prosecutor must agree. Also, the court has to approve the reduction of DUI charges to a Wet Reckless. Upon consent, the offender pleads guilty to driving recklessly. After approving a Wet Reckless plea, the court dismisses DUI charges and informs the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) of this action.

Why Accept a Wet Reckless Charge?

When offered a Wet Reckless option, you may wonder whether it is a good option or not. Whether to accept a Wet Reckless plea or not depends on your current circumstances, including whether you have a prior Wet Reckless or DUI conviction on your criminal record. For offenses involving alcohol or drugs in California, there is a ten-year look-back period. 

The benefits of accepting a Wet Reckless charge include:

Reduced Sentence

DUI charges may attract a sentence that varies depending on the circumstances of the DUI case. For instance, repeat DUI offenders may face a longer sentence than for first-time offenders. You may also face a longer sentence if you record very high levels of blood alcohol concentration. Pleading guilty for Wet Reckless can give you an advantage of a reduced sentence. For Wet Reckless, the maximum jail period is 90 days. However, for a first DUI conviction, you may face up to six months in jail. For a second or subsequent DUI offense, the period may extend up to one year or more.

A Wet Reckless may even fail to attract jail sentence and recommend a probation term. This way, pleading to a Wet Reckless would put you out of jail. However, if you violate the terms of probation, the judge may revoke the probation sentence and instead recommend jail time. However, before the revocation of the probation sentence, an offender has a right to a DUI probation violation hearing to prove the violation of probation terms.

Reduced Mandatory Sentence for Repeat DUI Offense

If you have previous DUI related offenses on your criminal record, you may face mandatory jail time upon conviction of driving under the influence. In determining prior driving under the influence offenses, Wet Reckless counts as a DUI offense. For the second-time DUI offenders, the minimum sentence is ninety days in jail. For third and subsequent offenses, the minimum sentence is one hundred and twenty days as provided by California DUI laws.

For a Wet Reckless conviction, the minimum sentence is five days only. The five-day minimum sentence applies irrespective of the number of DUI/Wet Reckless convictions you may have on your record. Therefore, especially for repeat offenders, pleading guilty to a Wet Reckless may be a strategy to avoid mandatory jail time. 

Reduced Probation Term

In California, a typical DUI case requires the offender to serve a three-year to a five-year probation period. However, if you are convicted for Wet Reckless, the mandatory probation period ranges between one and two years. Probation plays a vital role in DUI cases because efforts of expunging of DUI or Wet Reckless charges can only succeed when a defendant has served the required probation period. If a DUI or Wet Reckless charge is not expunged, it may affect other areas of your life. For instance, the conviction will show up on employment background checks and may affect your chances of landing a job. 

In most cases, employers do not seek information about an applicant's criminal convictions during the application or interview process. However, after making a job offer to a candidate, employers often run background checks on the new employees. An employer may not automatically deny you a job offer due to a Wet Reckless or driving under the influence charge. However, as long as the employers can see the convictions on your criminal records, it may affect their decision to hire you. A Wet Reckless offers an advantage as it offers higher chances of a faster expungement.

Lighter Fines

After you plead guilty for a Wet Reckless offense, you will pay lower fines than you would for a DUI conviction. The maximum fines you can pay for a Wet Reckless offense in California are one thousand dollars. However, if you face DUI charges and convictions, you will pay not only fines but also penalty assessments, and you will end up paying a much higher amount. You may end up paying well over three thousand dollars ($3,000) in fines and penalty assessments. Pleading guilty for Wet Reckless could save you a significant amount of money. 

You May Retain Your License

After a DUI conviction, you may face a mandatory license suspension that is often ordered by the court. After a first time DUI offense, your license may be suspended for six months, and for a second-time DUI conviction, the license suspension period may be up to one year. For a third time DUI suspension, the license suspension maybe three years. Some enhanced DUI convictions may result in hard license suspension for up to one year. A hard license suspension means that while on suspension, an offender cannot obtain a restricted driver's license to enable him/her drive to work, school, or DUI School. Situations that may trigger a hard license suspension include underage DUI and refusing to undergo DUI tests. 

A conviction for Wet Reckless may not attract a suspension of your driver's license like a penalty. Instead, the court may order the offender to have an IID device fitted in their vehicles for a minimum period of three months and a maximum period of six months. However, it is important to note that even for a Wet Reckless offense, you may face a DMV penalty. Every Wet Reckless conviction may add two points to your California Department of Motor Vehicles driving record. If you accumulate a set minimum number of points, you may be labeled as a negligent vehicle operator, and this could lead to suspension of your license.

The plea bargain does not bind the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, a reduction of your DUI charge to a Wet Reckless may help convince the DMV law enforcement officer to be a little lenient with you and make you retain your license.

Shorter Period at DUI School

For a first time California DUI conviction, you may face a minimum period of three months at DUI School. However, for a first-time Wet Reckless conviction, you only undergo mandatory alcohol training in the past ten years, the minimum alcohol-training program for your Wet Reckless offense will be nine months. However, the nine-month alcohol training and awareness program are still more favorable than the alcohol awareness and training requirement for a second driving under the influence conviction. For a second conviction, you would have to undergo eighteen months to thirty months of alcohol education.

Low Impact on Your Professional License

In California, a DUI conviction may have an impact on your professional license. If a DUI conviction significantly relates to a licensee's job, it may call for a license suspension hearing where you meet with the licensing body. For instance, offenders who hold or are seeking healthcare licenses may have to undergo this hearing upon facing a DUI conviction. Healthcare professionals may include doctors, nurses, veterinarians, and pharmacists, among others. Losing your license may not be automatic after a DUI conviction, but a DUI conviction triggers an investigation. After a conviction, if the licensing body is not convinced of your account of the facts resulting in your DUI conviction, it may take action against you.

Unlike a DUI conviction, a Wet Reckless is not likely to have any impact on your professional license, as it is a minor offense. The Department of Motor Vehicles and the relevant licensing body will still be informed of your Wet Reckless conviction. However, because the prosecutor found it prudent to reduce your DUI charge to a Wet Reckless, the licensing body may not inflict a harsh disciplinary action. After an expungement, a DUI or Wet Reckless offense is not disclosed to employers. This is not the case with licensing boards; even after expunging your DUI or Wet Reckless charges, the licensing body has to be informed. Therefore, if you are a professional facing DUI or Wet Reckless charges, it would be wise to involve a DUI attorney before you interact with your licensing body.

You May Retain Your Commercial Driver's License

Commercial drivers face harsher DUI laws than regular drivers. For instance, the maximum allowable blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for regular drivers is .08%. For commercial drivers; however, the maximum allowable blood alcohol concentration is .04%. Also, if a commercial driver faces a DUI conviction, he/she may have his/her commercial driver's license suspended.  If you are a commercial driver, a conviction for Wet Reckless driving will not result in an automatic suspension of your driver's license. You may only have your driver's license suspended after a wet conviction if you have accumulated enough points on your DMV record to qualify as a negligent operator. 

Ignition Interlock Device Installation is Not a Must

Especially after repeat DUI convictions, it is mandatory under California DUI Law to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in your vehicle. The device prevents you from operating your vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. An IID is a form of breathalyzer installed directly into a vehicle. The device prevents an intoxicated person from starting the vehicle. With an IID in place, a driver must remain sober throughout as he is operating the vehicle. For a Wet Reckless conviction, the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device is not mandatory even for repeat offenses. However, at its discretion, the court may require you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. 

Less Stigmatization

The law and society treat DUI offenders with contempt and inflict harsh consequences on DUI offenders. Operating a vehicle under the influence is an offense that society regards as careless and selfish. Operating your vehicle while intoxicated may seem like a disregard for human life and wellbeing. DUI offenders face stigmatization in society. For Wet Reckless, a reduced DUI charge, you may not face much stigma as you would for a DUI conviction.

Limitations of a Wet Reckless Plea

While there are many advantages of a Wet Reckless plea, there is also a downside. In some instances, a Wet Reckless conviction may receive the same treatment as a DUI conviction. Some limitations of a Wet Reckless conviction include:

Adding to Your DUI Record- A Wet Reckless conviction will affect your criminal record the same way a DUI conviction would. Being a priorable DUI offense under California law, if you commit a subsequent DUI offense while having a Wet Reckless charge within ten years from the first offense, you face repeat DUI charges. Repeat DUI charges have hefty charges and penalties.

Department of Motor Vehicle May Still Suspend Your License- Although a conviction for Wet Reckless may not trigger an automatic suspension of your driver's license as in the case of a DUI conviction, you may still have your license suspended by California's Department of Motor Vehicles. The court will not order a mandatory license suspension after a Wet Reckless conviction. However, you have to secure a hearing with the DMV within ten days of your arrest, and during this hearing; you have to win to retain your driver's license. If the Department of Motor Vehicles suspends your license, you may have to install an Ignition Interlock Device to continue operating your vehicle legally. 

Car Insurers Treat Wet Reckless as DUI- Motor vehicle insurers treat DUI and Wet Reckless as the same thing. Therefore, after a Wet Reckless conviction, insurers will instill strict measures on you as they would to a driver charged with driving under the influence. Your car insurance company may raise your insurance premium or withdraw the insurance coverage after your Wet Reckless conviction. Most insurance companies argue that drinking and driving is intentional conduct. The insurers may, thus, disclaim coverage for any damages that may result from drunk driving, even in the case of Wet Reckless. 

After a DUI/Wet Reckless conviction, insurers may not be willing to cover you at all.  A DUI conviction will make you a bad risk. Instead of covering a bad risk, most insurance companies would rather cancel your policy. If the insurer does not cancel your policy, he/she will automatically raise your insurance premiums.

Wet Reckless Records Appear on Employment Background Checks- Just like DUI, Wet Reckless charges will appear on your employment background checks reports, and they may influence the employer's decision to hire you. The expungement of Wet Reckless charges is the only way to clear your name. 

A Misdemeanor- Even though a Wet Reckless is a reduction of a DUI charge, it is still a misdemeanor under California law, and it is a criminal offense. Therefore, a Wet Reckless offender faces misdemeanor charges, just like a DUI offender. You cannot face lower charges such as infraction for a Wet Reckless offense. You will have to face the consequences of misdemeanor charges, including informal misdemeanor probation, fines, and jail time.  Misdemeanor informal probation is more favorable than felony probation, often recommended for enhanced DUI offenses. Informal misdemeanor probation will not require you to meet with the probation officer or to visit the probation offices during the probation period.

Can You Reinstate Your Insurance after License Suspension by the DMV?

The DMV may still suspend your insurance after a Wet Reckless offense even when the court does not suspend your insurance coverage. The Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend your license if you lose the case at your DMV hearing. You may also lose your license for failing to request a DMV hearing.

You can reinstate a suspended license by obtaining SR22, which verifies you have met the state's requirements concerning auto liability insurance. Any time you wish to reinstate your insurance after a DMV suspension or after a revocation, an SR22 is necessary. You may also have your license reinstated as long as you agree to install an Ignition Interlock Device in your motor vehicle.

When is a Wet Reckless Appropriate?

For cases where prosecution may not be able to prove liability during trial Wet Reckless charge may be more appropriate than a DUI charge. A Wet Reckless is also appropriate if your defense cannot help reduce your charge to a dry reckless, for instance. A Wet Reckless may also be appropriate in situations where a trial would be risky.  You will have the last word. After consulting with a DUI attorney, you may choose a Wet Reckless instead of other options.

Some factors may hinder the prosecutor from giving you a Wet Reckless deal if you commit a repeat DUI offense. The leading factor is political pressure; both the law and the society inflict harsh judgment on DUI repeat offenders. However, the prosecutor may override the political pressure on certain grounds. If the prosecutor realizes that there were some procedural errors while testing for impairment, he/she may offer the offender a plea bargain.

For example, you may be going home intoxicated while police stop you. After undergoing a DUI testing, you record a BAC of .08%. You had a prior DUI conviction less than ten years ago. Your attorney realizes that the breathalyzer used to test your alcohol content had not been calibrated as recommended by the law. This helps to dismiss the DUI charges as the prosecuting attorney may offer you a Wet Reckless deal. You would immediately accept the Wet Reckless deal to avoid facing harsher penalties for DUI repeat offenders.

Contact an Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Near Me

A Wet Reckless conviction is a better alternative to DUI conviction since it has lesser consequences than DUI convictions. A Wet Reckless is not an entitlement, and it is not available for every DUI case; it is a privilege that you have to bargain for. It is for this reason that you need the assistance of a DUI defense attorney. At Orange County DUI Defense Attorney, we can assist you to bargain for a reduction of your DUI case to Wet Reckless. Get in touch with our Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer today at 714-740-7866 for expert legal counsel and representation.