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How Does a Wet Reckless Charge Differ from A Standard DUI in California?


What is a Wet Reckless Charge?

You might hear the term “wet reckless” if you’re arrested for driving under the influence. Wet reckless is the informal name for a negotiated plea instead of pleading to a DUI. The prosecutor drops the original DUI charges in exchange for you pleading guilty (no contest) to a reckless driving charge.

Lawyers from a law firm in San Bernardino say that the wet part of the charge means that you acknowledge that your reckless driving involved alcohol or drugs. The disposition is provided for in Vehicle Code section 23103.5.

However, a wet reckless charge is not a stand-alone crime; you can’t be arrested and charged for it. Instead, it’s exclusively a negotiated plea. It is the in-between of reckless driving and a DUI conviction or a reduced DUI penalty.

What Are the Consequences of a Wet Reckless?

A wet reckless charge has less severe consequences than a DUI charge. If you don’t have prior DUI offenses, you can expect the following penalties:

  • A maximum jail term of 90 days
  • Probation for a period of 1 to 2 years
  • Alcohol education or substance abuse program for up to 12 hours

A wet reckless may also have collateral consequences, such as violating the licensing guidelines for professionals. It’s worth discussing all the options with skilled DUI lawyers in San Bernardino to help you make an informed decision.

What is a DUI Charge?

Under the California Vehicle Code Sections 23152 (a) and (b), a DUI charge is a criminal offense related to driving a motor car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is a direct accusation and not an outcome of a plea agreement like a wet reckless.

San Bernardino DUI lawyers explain that California’s DUI laws cover two main aspects of DUI charges:

  • Driver impairment under Section 23152 (a): It requires the prosecution to prove that you consumed drugs or alcohol that substantially affected your driving ability, making you unable to drive with the caution a sober person would.
  • Blood alcohol concentration under Section 23152 (b): The statute makes it illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, also known as the “per se” DUI law. You can be charged based purely on having an illegal BAC limit while driving, even if your driving ability is not noticeably impaired.

A DUI can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the case specifics. Consult skilled DUI lawyers immediately after your arrest to help you weigh your options and formulate a defense strategy.

What Are the Differences Between a Wet Reckless and a DUI Charge?

One of the most significant differences between a wet reckless and a DUI is the severity of the offense. A wet reckless charge implies a traffic offense that involves alcohol and reckless driving. The BAC is below the legal limit. San Bernardino DUI attorneys explain that a DUI is a more severe offense that involves driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher.

Differences in Penalties

Overall, the penalties for a wet reckless are lighter compared to the following DUI penalties upon a conviction:

  • Up to five years of probation
  • Mandatory court-ordered and DMV driver’s license suspension
  • Possible jail term
  • Enrollment in a drug or alcohol treatment or education program

Despite the lighter penalties of a wet reckless charge, they can still affect your life profoundly. Your auto insurance provider will likely hike your rates like they would for a DUI. Additionally, the conviction will show on your record and could affect your employment ambitions. If arrested again, the charge may also count against you in sentencing for a future DUI.

Are There Benefits of a Wet Reckless?

Before agreeing to plead guilty to a wet reckless charge, discuss the potential advantages and drawbacks with your DUI lawyers in San Bernardino. This information is crucial in helping you navigate the legal process while maximizing your chances of the most favorable outcome. Some potential benefits of a wet reckless charge are:

  • A shorter jail time: The maximum jail sentence for a wet reckless is 90 days, and the likelihood of an actual sentence is much lower. A first-offense DUI can attract a jail time of up to six months.
  • Lower fines: The maximum fine for a wet reckless offense is $1,000, but a DUI comes with additional court assessments and other charges that can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars.
  • No mandatory license suspension: A wet reckless charge carries no court-ordered license suspension penalty, but you may still have to fight the administrative suspension in a DMV hearing. A first-time DUI carries a mandatory 6-month suspension and more than a year for subsequent offenses.

A wet reckless also has a shorter probation and DUI school period if any. However, since there are potential drawbacks to a wet reckless, don’t plead guilty to the charge without discussing your options with experienced San Bernardino DUI attorneys.

Understanding the Differences Between Wet Reckless and DUI Charges with the Help of a Skilled DUI Lawyer

A wet reckless is a less severe charge than a DUI, often achieved as a plea bargain outcome of a DUI charge. However, despite the consequences being more lenient, they can still impact your life profoundly in various areas. It’s also essential to note that you’re less likely to be charged with a wet reckless on a subsequent offense. Consult skilled DUI lawyers to evaluate your options.

Patrick Silva, Attorneys at Law, is a top-notch San Bernardino law firm with dedicated DUI lawyers who can defend you when facing charges. We can evaluate your case and advise whether to plead guilty to a wet reckless while fighting to protect your rights and future. Call us at 909-500-4819 to schedule a FREE case assessment.

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