How is a “Wet Reckless” Charge Different than a DUI Charge?

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), it’s possible that you and your lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor for another charge to be brought instead, informally known as a “wet reckless” charge, instead of the DUI. Let’s take a look at some differences between a wet reckless and a DUI, so you understand why this might be an option worth considering.

A DUI versus a “Wet Reckless”

Section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol. More specifically, the first subsection of the code says it is illegal for someone under the influence of alcohol to drive, while the following provision makes it illegal to drive if you have a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08 percent or more.

A wet reckless is a charge of reckless driving, and it is not a DUI at all. However, a prosecutor can bring this charge only if the defendant agrees to plead guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) to the wet reckless charge instead of challenging the DUI at trial.

DUI Penalties vs. Wet Reckless Penalties

Penalties for a first offense DUI conviction may include:

  • Probation of 3-5 years
  • Fines ranging from $390-1,000
  • Possible jail sentence of up to six months
  • Mandatory driver’s license suspension for up to six months
  • Three-month alcohol education program
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (for LA County and other areas in California)

By contrast, because reckless driving is a less serious crime, penalties are far less grave under a wet reckless conviction. For a first wet reckless conviction, penalties may include:

  • Probation (for a shorter period)
  • Fines of $145-1,000
  • Possible jail sentence of 5-90 days
  • No mandatory driver’s license suspension
  • No mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device
  • Six-week alcohol education program

In addition, you will have two points on your license after a wet reckless plea. While further actions by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (such as license suspension) are possible, they are not mandatory, as they would be in the case of a DUI.

Additional Consequences of a Wet Reckless Plea

While it won’t appear on your record as a DUI, you will have a criminal conviction on your record. Also, a wet reckless counts as a “priorable” offense. That means that if you are convicted again for a DUI-related offense within 10 years of your plea, you’ll be considered a DUI repeat offender when it comes to those later charges and penalties.

Given the repercussions, you should still seriously discuss your DUI defense strategy with your attorney before accepting this (or any) deal. You need to do what’s best for you in your specific case.

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI-related crime, you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer who knows all the intricacies of DUI Defense and how to best protect your interests. Mr. Chesley and his team are available to you, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, for a free consultation and case evaluation. Call (800) 755-5174 or Contact them online today.

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