Many of my clients who have been arrested on suspicion of a California DUI ask whether it is possible to get their charges dropped to a California wet reckless. What is surprising is that most of these people don’t even know what it means to have a California DUI reduced to a California wet reckless other than the fact that it is a reduction.
Let’s start with what people know about a wet reckless. It is a reduction from a DUI charge. In fact, it is one of several reductions that may be offered. When the prosecution recognizes that they have a weak case, instead of pursuing a DUI conviction, they may offer a wet reckless, a “dry reckless,” or an exhibition of speed charge. The wet reckless is the first of these reductions.
The wet reckless is unique in that it cannot be charged, but only offered as a reduction of a California DUI when, as I previously said, a prosecutor views their case as weak. This usually occurs when a person’s blood alcohol content is close to 0.08 percent or when there are other weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Rather than lose at trial, prosecutors will offer the wet reckless to secure a conviction.
If a wet reckless is offered, and a person decides to accept the offer, that person will plead guilty or no contest to California Vehicle Code section 23103 pursuant to 23103.5. This essentially means that the person will be convicted of reckless driving involving alcohol. Advantage number one to the wet reckless is that it is not a DUI conviction.
The second advantage to a wet reckless reduction is that, unlike a DUI, there are no mandatory sentencing enhancements for a wet reckless conviction. Following a first-time DUI conviction, each subsequent DUI conviction within a 10-year period carries enhanced mandatory minimum jail sentences; 96 hours for a second DUI, 120 for a third. However, if a subsequent DUI charge is eventually reduced to a wet reckless, there is no mandatory minimum jail sentence.
While the wet reckless doesn’t carry enhancements, it does however serve as a “prior” to enhances sentences for future subsequent DUIs.
Some of the other advantages to a wet reckless reduction are that he probationary period for a wet reckless conviction can be shorter than that of a DUI, the fines and fees lower than a DUI, and DUI school shorter than what would be required for a DUI conviction.
Lastly, there is no automatic suspension of a driver’s license with a wet reckless conviction. When someone is found guilty of a California DUI, their license is automatically suspended. This is not the case when someone pleads guilty or no contest to a wet reckless. Although there may be no suspension stemming from the conviction, the DMV may still issue a suspension if the person loses their DMV hearing. Therefore, in order for someone who is eventually convicted of a wet reckless to keep their license, they must also win their DMV hearing.