Wet reckless is when a person facing DUI charges takes a guilty or no contest plea in a plea bargain. A DUI offense is a more severe crime than wet reckless. This means if you are charged with wet reckless, the penalties are less severe. The statute regulating this offense is found under VEH 23103.5. If you are charged with this offense, your criminal record indicates that the crime involved the use of drugs or alcohol.
A wet reckless is one of the best outcomes in a DUI charge. When faced with DUI charges, y an Orange County Criminal Lawyer can persuade the prosecutor for a plea deal to have you face lesser penalties, instead of the standard DUI punishment.
Understanding Wet Reckless in DUI Charges
As earlier stated, wet reckless is a lesser charge than a DUI charge under VEH 23152(a) and VEH 23152(b). An important point to note is that a police officer cannot arrest you for a wet reckless charge, but a DUI crime. When you are charged with a DUI offense, your lawyer must help you achieve your case’s best possible outcome. After evaluating the charges against you, your lawyer will discuss the various options available.
If you are eligible for a wet reckless agreement, your lawyer will convene a meeting with the prosecutor to discuss a plea deal. If the prosecutor is convinced that a wet reckless charge will serve the law's interests, they will grant you the plea deal.
During a plea deal discussion with your attorney, you may hear of dry reckless, which is another type of a plea bargain deal. The difference in these two situations is the mentioning of drugs or alcohol in your record. If you are offered a wet reckless as a plea deal, it means you plead guilty to the lesser offense, and your criminal record will include the crime involved drugs and alcohol. On the other hand, a dry reckless plea deal does not state that the offense involved drugs or alcohol.
Further to the above distinction, a wet reckless charge, just like a standard DUI, is priorable. When a crime is priorable, it means that the penalties are steeper when convicted of a repeat offense. In this case, if your first DUI charge was reduced and prosecuted as a wet reckless, a repeat DUI within ten years increases your penalties.
How to Have Wet Reckless as a Plea Deal
As earlier stated, if an officer pulls you over for a suspected DUI, the charges that follow are DUI and not wet reckless. After establishing that you have committed a DUI offense, the officer moves your file to the prosecutor's office, who proceeds to charge you with a DUI offense. After the standard charges, you should find a lawyer to represent you during the trial process.
Suppose a plea bargain is acceptable to you. In that case, your lawyer acting as a mediator between you and the state will persuade the prosecutor to reduce your DUI charges to a wet reckless. If the prosecutor agrees, the next step is to present the deal before the judge for approval.
If each party agrees to a wet reckless charge, you will take a guilty or no contest plea for reckless driving. Subsequently, the DUI charges against you are dropped for new charges, and the DMV is notified of the change.
An obvious question for many defendants is whether or not to agree to a wet reckless deal. The facts of the offense are primarily the deciding factors on whether the deal is good or not.
A prior conviction on a wet reckless or DUI charge can also help determine if to accept the deal.
Because wet reckless is a priorable offense, you may want to compare the punishments for the violation if you had previously been convicted of it.
Advantages of Having a Wet Reckless as a Plea Deal
Before taking a wet reckless as a plea deal, it is essential to know why it is a better option to a standard DUI charge. Some of the advantages of this deal are:
- The jail time is shorter
- Less compulsory jail sentence even with prior DUI convictions
- The probation period is shorter
- The fines are lower than in a regular DUI charge
- Suspension of your driving privileges is not mandatory by the court
- Attending DUI school for a shorter time
- A conviction may not severely affect your professional license
- There is no mandatory requirement to install an IID. However, if the DMV suspended your license, you will need to install the device to keep driving
Shorter Jail Time
When you are convicted of a wet reckless offense, the maximum period you can be jailed is ninety days. However, if you become convicted of a DUI charge, your first offense carries full jail term of six months. A repeat offense in ten years can result in a one-year jail sentence.
The difference in jail time is more critical if you receive probation as opposed to jail time.
Probation carries various conditions or terms that must be obeyed. A violation of your probation terms can result in its revocation, and in its place, the jail sentence is given. In this case, if you violate your probation under wet reckless, the jail sentence is much shorter than in a standard DUI.
Shorter Mandatory Jail Times even with Past DUI Convictions
Generally, wet reckless sentencing earns you a shorter jail time compared to a regular DUI charge. This difference is easily noted when you have a prior DUI conviction. Wet reckless is a priorable offense, just like a standard DUI. If you repeat a DUI offense, your mandatory jail sentences are:
- Ninety days (90) of jail for a second DUI conviction or
- One hundred and twenty days of jail time
These sentences are the minimum mandatory jail times to repeat offenders. However, if you are charged on a wet reckless, your minimum compulsory jail time is five days regardless of the number of DUI priors you have.
Shorter Probation Time
The probation period on DUI cases lasts between three and five years. But, if you are sentenced to probation under a wet reckless violation, the period of probation is shorter, usually between a year and two. Some of the reasons why a shorter probation period is preferable are:
- You can only expunge your record after completing your probation. This means that it will take you longer to complete for a DUI standard probation and have your record expunged.
- If your conviction record is not expunged, any person looking into your background will see a criminal conviction, especially a potential employer.
According to ban the box law, employers are prohibited from asking about your past convictions during job interviews. However, if the job is conditionally offered, they can ask for your criminal background. Even when the potential employer does not ask you directly about your criminal past, they can run a check on your criminal background and see your past conviction. Most employers are skeptical about hiring a person with a criminal background. Because of this, it is always advisable to have your record expunged after your successful completion of the probation sentence.
The total fines you pay under a wet reckless sentence are lower than those of a standard DUI. The maximum fine charged for a traditional DUI offense is $1,000. However, after the court adds up all the other charges, such as penalty assessment, the total sum in fines rises to $3,000. With this consideration, the fine you would end up paying under wet reckless charge is about half of your DUI fine.
No Mandatory License Suspension by the Court
If convicted on a DUI charge, the court will undoubtedly order the suspension of your license. However, a conviction under wet reckless doesn’t initiate this kind of punishment. This is contrary to a DUI sentence that calls for suspension of your driving privileges for:
- Six months or more if it is your first offense
- Twenty-four months for a repeat second conviction and
- Three years for your third DUI conviction
Additionally, some DUI convictions can also trigger hard suspension on your license for a year. This means, when you earn this penalty, you do not qualify to have a restricted driver’s license. Some of the factors that trigger this type of license suspension are:
- Refusing to submit to a chemical test or
- Being convicted of underage DUI
Compared to a wet reckless sentence, the offense doesn't result in an automatic suspension of your license as a punishment. However, an IID may be ordered for a minimum of three months but not exceeding six months.
Despite the court not imposing a mandatory suspension of your license, it is critical to note that this does not inform the DMV penalties. As earlier stated, the DMV is independent and carries its hearing separate from the court. The court case's outcome hardly changes the DMV's decision, unless there is substantial evidence that may have resulted in the dismissal of your charges.
Although the court does not suspend your license under a wet reckless conviction, the DMV can suspend it. You can fight against the DMV suspension by requesting a hearing in ten days after your arrest. If you prevail during the hearing, you retain your driving privileges, but you can install an IID and continue driving without restrictions if you lose.
Shorter DUI Programs
After a standard DUI conviction, you may be sentenced to months of DUI school program focusing on alcohol, drugs, or both. However, with a wet reckless conviction, the DUI school program lasts for only six weeks. But, if you have previously been convicted on a wet reckless or DUI in the past ten years, the DUI programs can help the extent to nine months.
This is shorter than in DUI charges, where a repeat offense can earn you between eighteen months and thirty of the DUI program.
Ultimately Less Effect on your Professional License
The impact of a conviction on your professional license is less than that of a DUI conviction. If you hold a professional license and become convicted on a DUI charge, the outcome can initiate a hearing on your professional license. However, this is only so if the conviction relates to your job.
For instance, if you hold or seek a practicing license as a doctor, veterinarian, nurse, or pharmacist, a DUI conviction can be assumed you have a substance abuse problem. Although having a conviction may not result in your practicing license suspension, it can initiate an investigation concerning you. If your explanations of the incidence do not convince the licensing body, action may be taken against you.
If you are convicted of wet reckless charges, the above consequences may not be triggered. Although your conviction must be communicated to the licensing body and the DMV, the fact that the prosecutor reduced the charges might mean you require no disciplinary action against your professional license.
An important aspect to note is that although you don’t have to disclose your past DUI convictions after an expungement, you must reveal your past conviction when you hold a state license.
Commercial Drivers do not Face Mandatory License Suspension
Commercial drivers are held in higher regard compared to other drivers. If you own a CDL, a DUI charge conviction will lead you to have your license suspended as a mandatory consequence. However, if your charges are reduced to wet reckless, a sentence will not result in the suspension of your license. But, if the points in your DMV's record exceed the limit for a negligent operator, then your license is suspended on a wet reckless charge.
A reckless conviction would earn you two points if you were operating a regular car with a standard license. According to VEH 12810.5a, your class C license faces suspension if you accumulate:
- Four points or more in one year
- Six points or over in two years or
- Eight points or more in three years
No Mandatory IID Installation
California DUI laws require a must IID installation for DUI convictions, especially on repeat ones. However, a sentence on wet reckless does not require the mandatory installation. Instead, the decision is left to the court to decide based on their evaluation of the offense.
Disadvantages of a Conviction on Reckless Driving
Despite the many advantages of having a wet reckless charge as a plea bargain deal, some areas of the offense are treated as a standard DUI. These are:
- A conviction is considered a prior offense with a repeat DUI
- Your driving privileges are still subject to suspension by the DMV
- A conviction earns you two points in your DMV record as a negligent operator
- Insurance companies treat the sentence as a regular DUI, meaning your premiums are likely to go up
- The conviction is a matter of public record, and your employer or potential employer can know about it
Here, we discuss these disadvantages in detail for ease of understanding.
When a Wet Reckless Conviction is Considered as a Prior DUI
When an offense is said to be priorable, it means a repeat of the crime is punished more severely than the prior offense. Before a judge passes judgment, your prior wet reckless conviction is considered to guide the court on the right punishment for you.
Suspension of your license by the DMV
Although a conviction on a wet reckless offense does not initiate a mandatory suspension of your license by the court, the DMV can still administratively suspend your license following your DUI arrest. For you to overcome this possible consequence, the law allows you to defend your license at a DMV hearing. But, the hearing is not automatic. After your DUI arrest, the law gives you ten days to request the hearing with the DMV. If you fail to ask for this hearing in the allotted time, your license is automatically suspended.
During the hearing, your lawyer can represent you to cross-examine the evidence by the arresting officer. Further, your lawyer will present arguments to convince the DMV official not to have your license suspended. Typically, DMV hearings take place before a court hearing or the conclusion of your court case.
If you do not win your DMV hearing, your driving privileges are suspended for a period, depending on your first offense or a repeat one. But, even with the suspension of your license, the law allows you to keep driving provided you fit your car and any other car you go with an IID device.
Sometimes, your lawyer can request the DMV to give you a continuance in your hearing. Your lawyer can focus on obtaining you a favorable plea deal during this time, such as wet reckless. The plea deal does not bind the DMV in their decision, but acquiring one can help persuade the DMV office to deal with your case more leniently.
An important aspect to note is that there are cases where the DMV does not allow a hearing and will automatically suspend the license. For instance, if you are below 21 years and declined to submit to a DUI breathalyzer test or blood test, your privilege for a DMV hearing is lost.
When can you have a Plea Deal in a DUI case?
The decision to reduce your DUI case to a wet reckless one is the prosecutor's one. The prosecution is likely to do this when:
- Your BAC was below or almost at 0.08%
- You don’t have a substantial history of alcohol or drug-related offenses
- The prosecutor finds their case is weak
For instance, you face a DUI charge for operating your vehicle with a BAC of 0.08%. Your lawyer discusses your offense with the prosecutor and manages to secure a lesser charge to that of wet reckless. Your lawyer succeeds in the negotiations because:
- You have no prior DUI conviction
- You were polite and cooperated with the arresting officer
- Your driving record is clean
Factors Affecting the Possibility of a Plea Deal Offer
Prosecutors sometimes make their decision based on political pressure. This pressure often results in them denying you a plea deal if you have repeated the offense. However, if their case is weak, the lack of sufficient evidence can override any pressure they are faced with. Some of the weaknesses are:
- Typical errors during your arrest or investigation or both
- Presence of unique mitigating factors
For instance, you are arrested on DUI charges for a second time after your BAC was taken and registered at 0.08%. However, as your lawyer is investigating your case, they discover that the breathalyzer device used to take your BAC was not calibrated as required by the law. This error and that the BAC was just at the border is enough to persuade the prosecutor to offer you a plea bargain deal. If you are charged with a wet reckless, the upside is that you will avoid the harsh penalties for a second DUI conviction.
Wet reckless as a plea deal, is not readily available or offered to any person facing a DUI charge. This is an advantage that needs to be sought or bargained for. Additionally, it may not be the best deal to have, considering it is a priorable offense, among other disadvantages.
Find a Criminal Lawyer Near Me
If you are charged with a DUI in California, a conviction's consequences are harsh. The primary objective of every defendant is to achieve the most favorable outcome possible. One of these outcomes is a wet reckless as a plea deal. You need the help of a skilled Orange County Criminal Lawyer. Over the years, we have helped many defendants facing DUI offenses to avoid the steep penalties by negotiating a wet reckless deal for them. Call our offices at 714-262-4833 and schedule an appointment to discuss your case in detail.