In California, you cannot be arrested or charged with wet reckless. Wet reckless is always a plea bargain for defendants facing DUI charges. DUI is a serious offense that you commit when you operate a motor vehicle while under alcohol influence or with a blood alcohol content that exceeds the legal limit. Compared to wet reckless, the consequences accompanying a DUI conviction under California Vehicle Code 23152 are severe and may include a jail sentence, fines, and a driver’s license suspension.
When you face DUI charges, you can seek a plea bargain where you plead guilty to reckless driving, and in return, your DUI case is dismissed. However, not all individuals qualify for the wet reckless plea deal since the prosecutor must agree with the defense attorney before coming up with the agreement. Therefore, it is crucial to seek legal guidance from a competent criminal defense attorney when battling these charges. At Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we will help you navigate through your DUI case to ensure a favorable outcome in your case.
Overview of DUI Wet Reckless in California
Wet reckless is not an independent charge, and you cannot be arrested for this offense. However, CVC 23103 arises as a plea bargain if you face DUI charges. When you drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, you can be arrested and charged with drunk driving under CVC 23152. However, since DUI attracts severe legal consequences after a conviction, your attorney can try to bargain a reduction of your charges to wet reckless, which is a lesser offense.
Even though wet reckless is the most common plea bargain for drunk driving charges in California, it is not guaranteed that it will be offered in your case. In most cases, the prosecutor will accept the plea when there is a likelihood that you win the case or their case against you is not strong enough.
Before you enter a wet reckless plea, the prosecutor must agree with your attorney. When you agree upon the plea deal, you will plead no contest or guilty to wet reckless charges. Your charges for DUI will then be dismissed, and you will face wet reckless penalties. Mostly, the prosecution will accept your plea if it is in their best interest. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the strength of your case before taking this deal.
The main benefit of pleading guilty to wet reckless in exchange for dismissal of your DUI is that you may fail to serve a jail sentence, and you avoid a lengthy suspension of your driver’s license. However, it is crucial to understand that wet reckless is still a misdemeanor and will appear on your record. Also, if you commit another DUI offense, you may be treated as a repeat offender. Therefore, the most desirable outcome for a DUI is to beat the charge. However, when the chances of a case dismissal are minimal, it would be wise to explore the plea deals available in your situation.
Circumstances under Which the Prosecutor Can Accept Your Wet Reckless Plea
Like other pleas, wet reckless is not an option available to all DUI defendants. The prosecutor must accept this deal before your DUI charges are reduced to wet reckless. Prosecutors often have their reasons for agreeing to a wet reckless plea. Otherwise, they may push for a full conviction for driving under the influence.
Wet reckless is by no means offered in each DUI case. It is a benefit that you must bargain for with guidance from a competent attorney. If you have a strong defense and the prosecutors see a possibility of winning the case, they could agree to this plea. You are more likely to receive the wet reckless offer if:
You are a First DUI offender
California DUI laws seek to punish repeat offenders severely. Therefore, if it is your first time facing VC 23152 charges, the court may be more lenient with you. When you are a first offender, you can easily convince the prosecutor to accept a wet reckless plea for your DUI charges. When you have a DUI on your record, your chances of securing the wet reckless plea are minimal. However, it can still happen when you have a solid legal team.
As a repeat offender, receiving the wet reckless plea can be incredibly beneficial. This is because the penalties that accompany subsequent DUI charges are more severe than the first conviction.
Your Last DUI Offense or Conviction was more than Ten Years Ago
For DUI crimes, the court will consider your crime as a prior if it is committed within ten years of the last offense. Therefore, if your previous conviction happened more than ten years ago, it may be much easier for you to obtain a plea deal for your DUI charges.
The prosecutor’s Evidence May does not Hold up in court.
The prosecutor will always allow you to plead guilty for wet reckless when they feel that their DUI case against you is not strong enough. A prosecutor’s case may be weak when the evidence presented against you was not obtained in the right way. When you are arrested for drunk driving in California, the arresting officer must read you the Miranda rights. Also, you have a right to refuse the chemical tests administered during and after an arrest.
If the officers forcefully obtained evidence against you through an illegal search or did not respect your rights during the arrest, the evidence collected may be inadmissible in court. However, with the help of a competent criminal defense attorney, you can uncover police misconduct during your arrest and contest the prosecutor’s evidence.
You Did Not Submit to a Chemical Test
Since the Results of your blood and breath tests are substantial pieces of evidence in a DUI case, you cannot be convicted for driving under California Vehicle Code 23152 without these results. If a breath or blood test was not administered at the time of arrest, you have a better chance of receiving the wet reckless plea.
Your blood alcohol content was Close to the 0.08% Legal Limit but Not Higher.
It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher with a standard DUI in California. Also, if you drive a commercial vehicle, the legal limit is 0.04%. The higher your BAC, the more serious your charges will be. Therefore, if your BAC was lower than 0.08%, your attorney could convince the prosecutor to accept the plea deal.
Suppression of Evidence
Your blood alcohol content is the most crucial piece of evidence in a DUI case. If you can successfully contest the accuracy of these results, you will have a chance at having your case dismissed. While it is possible to win a DUI case after suppressing crucial evidence, going to trial for a DUI may be more expensive and time-consuming.
What Makes a Wet Reckless Better than DUI?
Whether or not a wet reckless plea is beneficial depends on the circumstances of your case. Also, it depends on whether you are a first-time offender or a repeat offender. Some of the benefits you accrue from entering this plea include:
1. You Serve Shorter Jail Time
If you are convicted for drunk driving, you will face a jail sentence of up to six months for the first and one year for repeat offenders. However, when the prosecutor agrees to drop the charge and plead guilty for wet reckless, your jail sentence will not exceed ninety days. The difference in the jail sentence is especially beneficial when you face probation as an alternative to jail. If you violate probation, the judge may revoke your probation and reinstate the maximum penalty.
2. Shorter Probation
Sometimes, the court sentences DUI offenders to probation as an alternative to jail time. If you are convicted for DUI, you may be required to serve up to five years of informal probation. However, probation for wet reckless lasts for not more than two years. Shorter probation is essential when you want to expunge your record.
An expungement is a legal process where you are relieved of the consequences that accompany a conviction. Until you expunge your record, it will appear on your background checks and can be used by potential employers to deny you the job. Before you are allowed to expunge your record, you must have successfully served probation. When you serve shorter probation, you can file a petition for expungement and put the conviction behind you.
3. Lower Fines
The maximum fine for both DUI and wet reckless is $1,000. However, when the court fees and penalty assessment is added to the DUI fine, you may end up paying up to $3,000 in fines. Since there won’t be additional charges for wet reckless, you will pay a fine of less than half of what you pay for DUI.
4. Avoid a Court-Ordered Driver’s License Suspension
When you are convicted for drunk driving under California Vehicle Code 23152, the conviction triggers a six months driver’s license suspension for the first offense, one year for the second offense, and three years for the third offense. In addition, some convictions trigger a hard conviction to not seek a restricted driver's license . Some situations that could trigger a stiff license suspension include underage DUI and refusal to take chemical tests.
If your attorney convinces the prosecutor to offer you a wet reckless plea to DUI helps ensure that you do not suffer the mandatory license suspension. However, the judge may order you to install an ignition interlock device for up to six months.
If you operate on a commercial driver’s license, a DUI conviction will result in a mandatory suspension of the license. However, when your charge is reduced to wet reckless, the license will only be suspended when the DMV points exceed the negligent operator limit.
5. Shorter DUI School
The penalties that accompany a conviction for wet reckless include attending an alcohol education program for six weeks. For a first DUI offense, the court requires that your program , on last for not less than three months. If you face charges for a second DUI within ten years, the program will last up to thirty months.
6. Less Impact on your Professional License
A conviction for DUI does not only attract legal penalties but may affect your personal and professional life. With a DUI conviction in your record, it can be challenging to obtain a professional license. If you already have the license, the conviction can invoke an investigation. A wet reckless has far less or no impact on your license.
It is crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before accepting a plea or speaking with your licensing board if you face DUI charges.
Penalties for California Penal Code
When you plead guilty or no contest to wet reckless, you can expect to face the following penalties:
- A jail sentence not exceeding ninety days
- One to two years of informal probation
- Up to twelve hours of alcohol education or a substance abuse program\
Generally, the penalty you face for wet reckless is less severe than the six months jail sentence, driver’s license suspension, and probation of up to five years. If you are a repeat offender, securing the wet reckless plea may be beneficial since you can avoid the mandatory jail time and escape a driver’s license suspension.
Sometimes, a wet reckless may have collateral consequences, especially when there is a strong possibility of winning the DUI case. Therefore, it is always crucial to consider the options before settling on this plea. California drunk driving laws are complicated for the average person to sort through, and it would be wise to navigate this process with competent legal guidance.
Setbacks of a Wet Reckless Plea Deal
The most significant disadvantage of accepting a wet reckless plea is that you will accept a guilty verdict with no possibility of appearing the charge. Sometimes, there are better options that come with going to trial for DUI:
- You could win the case and receive a not guilty verdict
- The prosecution may drop your charges before trial
Some of the setbacks that come with the wet reckless plea include:
- Wet reckless is a priorable offense. If you face DUI charges within ten years of a wet reckless, you will be treated as a repeat offender. In this case, you will face harsher penalties after a conviction.
- A wet reckless will invoke a driver’s license suspension by the DMV. Even though the court cannot seek a license suspension for wet reckless, you have to defend your license suspension in an administrative hearing. If you lose the hearing, your license will be suspended.
- Wet reckless is treated like DUI by vehicle insurers. Whether you face a DUI or wet reckless conviction, your motor vehicle insurers may increase your premiums. This is because, like DUI, wet reckless adds points that could taint your good driving record.
- Potential employers can discover wet reckless. Most employers will do a background check on you before offering you a job. If you have not expunged your wet reckless conviction, the employers may figure out that the charge resulted from DUI charges.
Other DUI Plea Deals Acceptable in California
When you face DUI charges, there are several other plea deals you can enter from the prosecutor other than wet reckless, and they include:
Dry Reckless Plea Bargain
The outcome of your DUI case will be better when you agree to a plea deal. Dry reckless is another plea deal with which you can escape the consequences that accompany a conviction for DUI. A dry reckless refers to reckless driving without the involvement of alcohol. Unfortunately, prosecutors are often reluctant to accept a dry reckless plea, significantly when your blood alcohol content exceeded the legal limit.
Since alcohol is not a factor in the dry reckless plea, the penalties for this offense are lesser than those of DUI or wet reckless. If you face an arrest in the future, a dry reckless cannot be used to enhance your charges. This is because dry reckless is not a priorable offense. Also, you may not spend time in jail if your DUI is reduced to dry reckless, and the charge will not qualify to enter your permanent criminal record. The only setback to accepting a dry reckless plea is that you must attend an alcohol education program.
Exhibition of Speed
In California, an exhibition of speed was a charge implemented to punish highway racers. However, it is commonly used as a plea by defendants facing DUI charges. Even though it is illegal to speed race on California streets, the penalties for this offense do not come close to those you face after a DUI conviction. Therefore, negotiating a plea for the exhibition is beneficial in the following ways:
- You will face a shorter jail sentence when your DUI charge is dropped, and you plead guilty to an exhibition of speed.
- Instead of the three to five years’ probation you serve for a DUI conviction, you will serve up to years of probation for an exhibition of speed.
- Exhibition of speed does not count as a prior DUI when you face subsequent charges. Therefore, you will not be worried about the sentence enhancement imposed on repeat offenders.
Even when you avoid the consequences of DUI with the exhibition of speed plea, it is crucial to remember that a conviction for this offense will be added to your DMV record.
Open Container Plea
When a traffic officer [pulls your vehicle over, they may check your vehicle for open containers of alcohol even when you are not driving. If an open container is found, they may suspect you of impairment and pursue a DUI. However, a charge for an open container is far less severe than a DUI since it is considered a traffic violation and not a DUI. Therefore, you may not spend any time in jail, and your driver’s license will not be suspended.
Traffic Violations Plea
DUI charges are often severe, and a conviction can be life-changing. When police misconduct in your case is detected, the prosecutor may offer you a traffic infraction plea. Traffic violations are minor crimes, and no trial will be required to find you guilty for this offense. Therefore, your criminal attorney can try to find procedural errors in your case to gear you into obtaining this plea.
Drunk in Public Plea
In California, drinking in a public place is a misdemeanor. When you are drunk on the sidewalk or public roads, the law considers you a risk to the safety of other people. However, this offense is not as severe as DUI. If you face DUI charges, the prosecutor may allow you to plead guilty to a drunk in public crime in exchange for dropping your DUI charges.
Being drunk in public is not a driving offense. Therefore, taking this plea will protect you from a license suspension. However, it is essential to understand that this plea may only be available when it is unclear that you were driving.
Find a Competent Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Wet reckless is a reduced charge that the California Vehicle Code authorizes. When you face charges for driving while intoxicated or with a BAC exceeding the legal limit, you can seek the reduction of your charges to a wet reckless, which has far fewer consequences after a conviction. Most individuals desire a Wet reckless plea to escape the harsh penalties of a DUI conviction. A conviction for wet reckless results in a lesser jail sentence, and you can retain your driving privileges.
If you face serious DUI charges in California, your attorney can take one approach to obtain a reduced charge like wet reckless. Unfortunately, DUI charges are often severe, and it’s not guaranteed that the prosecutor will agree to the plea bargain. Therefore, seeking guidance and representation from a knowledgeable attorney is crucial. If you or your loved one is battling DUI charges in Riverside, CA, we invite you to contact Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm. Call us today at 951-946-6366 to discuss more details of your case.