Sometimes, in reference to a DUI, you will hear the term “wet reckless” or simply a “wet”. What does this even mean? Well, it is a term used as a plea bargain settlement in place of a DUI. You cannot be charged with a “wet reckless”. Instead, California Vehicle Code (CVC) section 23103.5 (http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc23103_5.htm) allows a plea of Nolo Contendere on the lower charge of CVC 23103 for reckless driving (http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc23103.htm) where alcohol was involved. Being offered a “wet reckless” rather than a straight DUI is usually a good thing, however, it does not mean that all your troubles are over. Here are some pros and cons to taking an offer of a “wet reckless”.
PROS of a “wet reckless”
1. No Sentencing Enhancements: While multiple DUI charges within a 10 year period trigger extra fines, classes, and jail time, multiple “wet reckless” offenses do not trigger mandatory sentencing enhancements.
2. Shorter Jail sentence: The maximum jail sentence on a “wet reckless” is 90 days. For a first time DUI, the maximum is 6 months and for a second and third it is one year.
3. Probation period is often shorter: For a normal first time DUI, informal probation is usually 3 years, but can be up to 5. For a “wet reckless” conviction, probation is usually 1 to 2 years. This being said, sometimes prosecutors still want the 3 year informal probation, even with this lesser charge.
4. Lesser Fines: DUI fines are usually upward of $1500 as there are mandatory minimum fines associated with DUI’s. There are no mandatory fees associated with a “wet reckless”. This means that fines can be negotiated with the court and with the prosecutor.
5. Shorter Alcohol Program: The minimum program associated with a DUI is a 3 month program. This usually consists of about 24 actual hours of school. The program associated with a “wet reckless” is usually 12 hours or no program at all.
6. No mandatory Drivers License Restriction: Once convicted of a DUI, the court imposes a 90 day license suspension separate from the suspension the DMV imposes. The amount of time your license is suspended increases depending on whether you have prior DUI convictions. With a “wet reckless”, however, there is no mandatory suspension from the court, but the DMV may still suspend your license.
CONS of a “wet reckless”
1. It can be priorable: As with a first time DUI, if you were to get a second or a third DUI offense within a 10 year period, the prosecution could use your “wet reckless” charge to increase the penalties for subsequent DUI’s.
2. Insurance can still increase: Insurance companies often do not distinguish between a “wet reckless” conviction and a DUI and will treat the “wet reckless” the same as if you were convicted of a DUI.
3. DMV can still suspend license: As the DMV hearing often happens before your first court appearance, just because you get the “wet reckless” in court does not mean the outcome of your DMV hearing will change. If you lost your DMV hearing, your license is still suspended.
Hopefully that helps clear the fog a little regarding the difference between a regular DUI and a “wet reckless”. If you have been charged with a DUI call the Law Offices of Mark A. Gallagher for a free consultation: 800-797-8406.