Many criminal defense attorneys have the opportunity to plead their clients to a “wet reckless” charge instead of a DUI.
A wet reckless is the first of several reductions of a DUI charge that a person suspected of driving under the influence may take advantage of. Usually, a wet reckless is offered as a plea bargain when a person’s blood alcohol content is close to 0.08% or when there are holes in the prosecution’s case such that they would rather obtain a conviction of a lesser charge than lose at trial.
If someone pleads guilty to a wet reckless charge, they are pleading guilty to Vehicle Code 23103 which, technically, is a charge of driving recklessly. However, what makes a charge of Vehicle Code 23103 “wet” is the fact that the prosecutor states for the record that alcohol or drugs were involved with the charge.
There are advantages and disadvantages of pleading to a wet reckless.
Unlike a DUI, there are no mandatory sentencing enhancements for a wet reckless charge. In other words, if you have prior DUI charges within 10 years and you plead guilty to a wet reckless charge, enhancements will not be added to your sentence as they would with DUI charge. On the other hand, a charge of a wet reckless serves as a prior within 10 years for purposes of enhancing a sentence for a subsequent DUI charge.
There is a shorter jail term associated with a wet reckless charge as compared to a charge of driving under the influence. A DUI charge carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail, whereas a wet reckless charge carries a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail. If the court revokes probation because you have committed another crime or otherwise violated probation, the most time you can spend in jail would be 90 days.
With a wet reckless charge, there is not automatic suspension of your license. When someone is found guilty of a first time DUI, and they did not refuse the chemical test, their license is automatically suspended for six months. This is not the case when someone pleads guilty to a wet reckless charge. However, the DMV may still separately suspend your license. In order for a person who is offered a wet reckless to keep their license, they must win their DMV hearing.
Generally, the probation period for a first time DUI is anywhere from three to five years. The probation period for a wet reckless is generally one to two years.
The length of court ordered DUI school is shorter under a wet reckless charge. The court on a DUI charge will generally require you to attend a three month DUI school. A wet reckless charge, on the other hand, may only require you to attend a six week program. In some cases, DUI school may not even come with a wet reckless charge.
The fines for a wet reckless charge are much less than the fines associated with a DUI charge.
A person who pleads guilty to a wet reckless charge may be saving money in the amount of fines they’ll have to pay, however that money will likely go to higher insurance premiums. Insurance companies treat DUI charges and wet reckless charges equally. As a consequence, your premiums may increase or your policy may even be cancelled.