If you have been arrested for a DUI in California you may have heard the term “wet reckless.” What exactly is a wet reckless and how is it related to a DUI charge?
If you have been charged with a DUI (a violation of Vehicle Code 23152), your attorney may negotiate to get the charges reduced from a DUI, to a “wet reckless”. If you plead to a wet reckless, the court record will show a conviction for reckless driving (Vehicle Code 23103) pursuant to Vehicle Code 23103.5. The court record will include a statement by the prosecutor that there was consumption of alcohol or ingestion of drugs involved with the reckless driving offense.
The California wet reckless is unique because it is not a charge for which you can be arrested. It is a charge that is only offered as a plea bargained settlement in place of a DUI.
What are the advantages to a wet reckless conviction?
Even though it allows you to avoid a DUI conviction, a wet reckless conviction still has serious consequences. It will count as a “prior” if you get convicted of any subsequent DUIs within ten years of your “wet” conviction. And, if you lose your DMV hearing the DMV will suspend your license, even though you were not convicted of a DUI by the court. Also, your insurance company may treat your wet reckless like a DUI and cancel or raise the premium of your policy, just as if you were convicted of a DUI. So what are the advantages to a wet reckless conviction?
One of of the most significant advantages is that a wet reckless conviction allows a defendant to avoid installing an ignition interlock device (IID). An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a mechanical device, about the size of a cell phone that attaches to your vehicle’s ignition. This system is essentially a “rolling breathalyzer,” installed in your personal vehicle at your expense and by order of the court, Since 2010, legislation has required anyone who is convicted of a DUI which occurred in one four pilot counties (Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare) to install a certified IID on each vehicle that he/she owns or operate. This is one of the most costly and burdensome consequences of a DUI conviction, for persons convicted in one of the four pilot counties. It is NOT required for a wet reckless conviction.
Even if you are not in a county requiring IID installation, there are other factors which make a wet reckless plea less onerous than a DUI conviction: Court fines and fees are substantially less, the period of time a defendant is placed on probation can be shorter than for a DUI conviction and, if the court orders a drug and alcohol education class as a condition of probation, that class may be six weeks or 12 hours for a wet reckless conviction, as opposed to the three month program required for a DUI conviction. Finally, unlike a DUI conviction, a wet reckless conviction does not trigger a mandatory six-month license suspension from the DMV.
How do I know whether or not I can get a wet reckless in my case?
A District Attorney will often agree to a wet reckless plea in cases where the blood alcohol level is relatively low, or there are facts which lead the prosecution to believe that they may have a difficult time winning a DUI conviction at trial. Every DUI case is different, and only by speaking to an experienced DUI attorney can you learn whether this may be an appropriate option in your case.