While California doesn’t typically carry the reputation as a “law and order” state, the potential consequences for a conviction of driving under the influence can be severe. However, state DUI law does allow for leniency in some cases. Under the right circumstances, a prosecutor has the ability to agree to a reduced DUI charge known as a “wet reckless.” This charge is only available under certain circumstances and is also at the discretion of the prosecutor. If you have been charged with DUI in Sonoma County, California, contact the Wilber Law Offices, P.C. to learn if a wet reckless charge is a possibility in your case.
Wet reckless is also known as reckless driving involving alcohol. It is unusual in that it is not a crime that you can be charged with by law enforcement. A wet reckless is only available in a DUI case through a plea bargain. A wet reckless charge carries lighter penalties than a DUI, and it is often used where the prosecution may believe their case has weaknesses.
There are some major differences between a conviction for wet reckless and DUI under California law. To begin with, a wet reckless conviction is not considered a DUI. This can have far-reaching consequences that can affect your ability to obtain a driver’s license and maintain your employment. And while a wet reckless will not be reflected as a DUI conviction on your record, it is important to note that it can be considered a prior conviction for sentencing purposes if you are charged with DUI again in the future.
Another important difference between wet reckless and DUI is that, unlike a DUI conviction, there is no mandatory driver’s license suspension or ignition interlock device requirement with a wet reckless conviction. However, it is still possible that your driver’s license can be suspended through an administrative hearing after your DUI arrest.
Ultimately, the decision to offer a wet reckless plea bargain falls to the prosecuting attorney. While these plea offers can be uncommon, a prosecutor may be willing to agree to a wet reckless charge in cases where the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is at or even slightly over a .08.
In order to finalize the plea, the prosecutor, the defendant, and the judge must all agree to the reduction in charges. According to California Vehicle Code 23103.5, the process for a wet reckless plea is as follows:
If the prosecution agrees to a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a charge of a violation of Section 23103 in satisfaction of, or as a substitute for, an original charge of a violation of Section 23152, the prosecution shall state for the record a factual basis for the satisfaction or substitution, including whether or not there had been consumption of an alcoholic beverage or ingestion or administration of a drug, or both, by the defendant in connection with the offense. The statement shall set forth the facts that show whether or not there was a consumption of an alcoholic beverage or the ingestion or administration of a drug by the defendant in connection with the offense.
Like with any plea bargain, there are downsides to a wet reckless plea. A wet reckless is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum jail sentence of 90 days in the county jail.
Additionally, the wet reckless charge will result in two points on your California driver’s license. This could lead to a suspension of your driver’s license if you accumulate enough points to be designated as “negligent operator.”
While there are some obvious advantages to a wet reckless plea, it is important to keep in mind that it is still a misdemeanor conviction on your record. If you are arrested for DUI again, the wet reckless plea can be used against you to charge you with a 2nd offense DUI.
Most of all, a plea bargain will waive your right to a trial by a jury of your peers. A trial is your best chance for an acquittal, which is the best possible outcome in your case. The decision on whether to accept a wet reckless plea or not is a serious one and should be made in consultation with an experienced Sonoma County DUI lawyer. Contact the Wilber Law Offices, P.C. to discuss your options.