What is "Wet Reckless" Driving?
Santa Barbara DUI Attorney
Wet reckless is a plea bargain that can be offered to DUI suspects after a drunk driving arrest. If you were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the prosecution may try to convince you to plead guilty in exchange for a less severe criminal allegation: wet reckless driving. The term "wet reckless" implies that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or another controlled substance. Wet reckless charges have benefits and drawbacks, depending on the facts, evidence, and circumstances surrounding your case.
California DUI Laws & Wet Reckless Driving
California Vehicle Code § 23152 prohibits motorists in California from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Additionally, California law makes it illegal for a driver to operate a car while he/she is simply "under the influence." The current BAC threshold in California is .08%. If a driver is found with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that exceeds the legal limit, he/she will be arrested for DUI. Law enforcement can arrest a suspect for DUI even if his/her BAC is less than the legal limit. After an arrest, prosecutors will determine the suspect's charges. In some cases, the prosecution will offer the defendant a plea bargain; a sentence reduction in exchange for a guilty verdict. Plea bargains are not always ideal, but they can help defendants avoid the penalties of a heavier conviction. According to California V C § 23103.5, the defendant can plead guilty to a lesser charge if the prosecution agrees to the arrangement. Generally speaking, a plea bargain helps the defendant avoid heavy legal penalties while allowing the prosecution to obtain a conviction.
What are the disadvantages of a wet reckless conviction?
Wet reckless driving is punishable by many of the same penalties associated with a standard DUI, with some exceptions. Wet reckless may result in jail time, license suspension, probation, and insurance penalties. While a wet reckless conviction is not the same as DUI, your insurance provider will probably treat it like a standard DUI conviction. Click here to learn more about DUI convictions and your car insurance policy. Similarly, a wet reckless conviction will count as a prior DUI offense on your driving record. In other words, future DUI charges (within ten years) will view the wet reckless conviction like a standard DUI conviction, which may lead to enhanced penalties.
Wet Reckless vs. Driving Under the Influence
Although DUI and wet reckless driving both imply alcohol/drug impairment, wet reckless driving does not necessitate the same penalties as a standard drunk driving conviction. If you were convicted of DUI in the past ten years, a wet reckless plea bargain will not take these prior offenses into consideration. There are no mandatory sentence enhancements for a repeat wet reckless driving conviction. Unlike repeat DUI offenders, a wet reckless driving conviction carries no mandatory jail time – even if you have previous drunk driving convictions on your driving record.
A standard DUI conviction carries a maximum jail sentence of six months in a county jail. Your second DUI conviction within ten years will carry a potential sentence of one year. Subsequent offenses are punishable by one year in a county jail as well. Wet reckless driving is punishable by no more than 90 days in a county jail, regardless of your past DUI offenses. In fact, wet reckless driving does not necessitate any period of incarceration. If the defendant faces a one-year period of incarceration in the county jail, he/she may be able to avoid this penalty by taking a wet reckless plea bargain.
Like potential jail sentences, wet reckless driving involves reduced probation as well. You could face a three to five year probation period after a regular DUI arrest, but a wet reckless plea bargain only entails one to two years of probation. During your probation period, potential employers can will be able see your criminal conviction when he/she conducts a background check. Probation could also affect your ability to apply for housing or have your criminal record expunged. In the end, a shortened probationary period is beneficial.
The court may decide to suspend your driver's license after a drunk driving conviction. Typically, your first DUI will result in a six month license suspension. Subsequent offenses can lead to longer suspensions, such as two or three years. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, a first-time DUI can lead to one year of license suspension. On the other hand, there is not mandatory suspension attached to a wet reckless plea bargain. Although the DMV may still decide to suspend your license, the court is not required to impose this penalty.