What is a Wet Reckless?
A wet reckless, sometimes wrongly called a “wet and reckless”, (or even misspelled as a “wet wreckless”), is a special charge. By law, (VC 23103.5), it can’t be charged as a violation of the law for a new case, but the law allows a DUI charge to be reduced to a wet reckless (or a reckless driving involving alcohol) FROM a DUI, where the original charge was a DUI.
So, if you are charged with a DUI, and the prosecutor agrees, you can have your charges reduced from a DUI to a wet reckless, and then plead guilty or no contest to the wet reckless charge.
Why Would You Want a Wet Reckless?
A wet reckless has some advantages, as well as some things that make it less appealing than a DUI. Simply, the pros and cons are as follows:
Pros of a Wet Reckless:
- It’s not a DUI, so you can truthfully state that you weren’t convicted of a DUI;
- It has a lower minimum fine, saving you court fines and fees;
- It has an alcohol school of 12 hours, instead of 30 hours;
- It may have a lower probation than a DUI;
- It may get you an expungement faster, clearing your record;
- With Los Angeles DUI cases, it avoids the mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) for convictions. (This also applies for Sacramento, Alameda, and Tulare counties, in Northern California)
- For persons that have a commercial license, it may result in a lower penalty.
- It has a lower maximum sentence, of 90 days jail instead of 180 days jail for a DUI, which is only important for exposure if there are future probation violations.
Cons of a Wet Reckless:
- It is a misdemeanor, just like a DUI;
- It is a two point violation with the DMV, just like a DUI;
- It is a prior-able offense, and if you ever had another arrest for DUI, it is treated like a prior, just like a DUI.
- For most people, that have the DMV suspend their license in a separate DMV proceeding, it means that they have to do two alcohol schools, instead of one – the 12 hour wet reckless school required by the court, and also the 30 hour level one alcohol school for the DMV, to get a license back.
- It subjects you to all the terms of probation that persons with a DUI have, including in some cases, search and seizure terms.
- DA’s often want the fines and the terms of probation to be the same as a DUI.
- For Orange County DUI cases, the Orange County DA’s Office wants a DNA sample submitted if the case is reduced from a DUI to a wet reckless (or reduced to any other charge, including a dry reckless).
- None of the above apply if the case is reduced to a dry reckless.
How Do You Get a Wet Reckless?
A wet reckless can only be offered by the District Attorney or other prosecutor. In most cases, they are reluctant to reduce anything below a DUI, as part of the policy to be tough on DUI cases.
Who Gets A Wet Reckless?
Under the Orange County DA‘s policy, only cases at or below a 0.12% blood alcohol level can be considered for reduction to a wet reckless in Orange County.
The DA is also reluctant to reduce cases if they feel they can otherwise prove a DUI case at trial. For cases where the defense points out a legal defense to the DUI charge, or a factual defense that makes proving the DUI more troublesome, a wet reckless is offered. The DA offering a wet reckless under current policy (2016) must obtain the permission of a supervisor, and must fill out a special form from the DA’s office regarding why the case is being reduced.
When Is A Wet Reckless Appropriate?
A wet reckless is appropriate for cases where the prosecution can’t assure a conviction at trial, and where the defense can’t do better, like a dry reckless, or where a trial may be risky. Of course, the client always has the last word, and if after consulting with the defense attorney, the client chooses the wet reckless instead of other options, including negotiating for a better deal, or going to trial, then the case settles for a wet reckless and ends.
In most cases, if the DA believes that there are enough problems to offer a wet reckless, then negotiations may be successful, and a better deal, like a dry reckless, can be had. However, every case is different, and it’s wise to speak to an experienced DUI attorney before making that decision.
Contact our firm or call us today at (877) 568-2977 to get our evaluation of your case.