A wet reckless conviction is a rare charge that is an outcome of a plea agreement. You can't be charged or arrested for a wet reckless charge unless there's a plea deal to lower the DUI charges. If you or a loved one has been apprehended for DUI crimes in Pasadena, CA, and wants the penalties reduced, contact us at the Pasadena Criminal Attorney. Our professionals are well conversant with the meaning of wet reckless, including when and why the prosecutor would consider the charge as an option for a DUI charge, as well as its benefits and consequences, thus allowing us to provide the best counsel and guidance.
Understanding Wet Reckless Under California Law
Wet reckless refers to a possible plea deal for defendants facing charges of DUI as defined under provisions of California VC 23152a or driving while under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of .08 percent or above as outlined in California's VC 23152 b. Following a plea agreement, the reduced DUI charge is normally convicted as a misdemeanor with less severe penalties than that of a basic DUI offense. However, if you're found guilty of multiple counts of wet reckless, the charges could be elevated to felonies, and the penalties and fines increased.
Reasons Why a Defendant Can Get a "Wet Reckless" Plea Deal
A defendant does not necessarily have to be reckless or to have been impaired by drink or drugs to have their DUI charges reduced. All that's required is that they accept the plea bargain. The prosecution will offer a plea bargain if:
- There is evidence of increased blood alcohol levels
- The perpetrator had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or above
- The defendant has no substantial history of alcohol or drug abuse
- The chemical tests were not carried out properly as stipulated in California’s Title 17
- The defendant's traffic stop had no prior cause
No prosecutor would agree to take on a case that they aren't certain of winning. If the facts are lacking or there are procedural errors, the prosecution would consent to the plea deal since the offender would be held accountable to the laws. In addition, a weak case can result in the defendant getting off easy.
If both sides consent to a plea bargain, the courts could also endorse the arrangement before the defendant can plead no contest or guilty to driving recklessly. According to California VC 23103.5, the prosecution must disclose that the offender used drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident once they have agreed to accept a plea of guilty to operating a vehicle with BAC levels of 0.08 percent or above or drunk driving as an option to the initial DUI charge. The wet reckless charge is noted in your criminal record and forwarded to the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV.)
A wet reckless plea deal would not be accepted by the prosecutor if the defendant has a history of multiple DUI convictions. Before entering a plea, ensure that your DUI defense attorney is well informed of your criminal past to identify the best method to persuade the jury or judge to lower the initial drunk driving penalties.
Before entering into a plea deal to obtain a wet reckless charge, the defendant must weigh the advantages and disadvantages. In some cases, a DUI reduced charge would be advantageous, while in others, it would be detrimental. For instance, if you have had five wet reckless charges within the last 10 years, your record isn’t clean, and the subsequent wet reckless convictions would result in more serious punishments. However, if your record is clean and there have been no previous wet reckless convictions, consenting to a wet reckless charge would be the best option.
The Benefits of a "Wet Reckless" Plea Bargain to Defendants
Repeat Offenders Face Less Mandatory Jail Time
If you committed one or multiple priorable offenses within the last 10 years, you will be sentenced to prison. When compared to a regular DUI conviction, the sentence term is less for wet reckless. The defendant would serve no less than five days in jail if convicted of wet reckless. However, the least mandatory sentence for DUI charges is 90 days for second-time offenders and 120 days for third-time offenders.
There Is No Requirement For A Court Order To Revoke Or Suspend A Driver's License
The court would not suspend a perpetrator's license if he or she is convicted of wet reckless. In contrast to wet reckless charges, a DUI guilty verdict would result in a driver's license suspension of up to 6 months for first-time offenders, twenty-four months, and thirty-six months, respectively, for second-and third-time perpetrators.
Additionally, acts like declining to submit to chemical tests or engaging in drunk driving while under 21 could result in a driving license suspension without the option of applying for any restricted license. However, for a wet reckless conviction, these aggravating conditions cannot result in a driver's license suspension. Alternatively, the court would compel the defendant to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in their vehicle.
Although the courts would not suspend or revoke a defendant’s driving license if he or she is convicted of a reduced offense, the DMV could revoke or suspend their driving license if the accused fails to request a DMV hearing or if he or she loses the DMV trial. Therefore, you can keep your driving privileges by scheduling an administrative hearing within 10 days of your arrest. This would assist in delaying the suspension of your driver's license until the hearing is over.
A Shorter Probation Term
Probation ranges from 1 to 2 years for wet reckless convictions. A regular DUI conviction often warrants 3 to 5 years of probation. The following are the terms of this probation:
- Participation in community service
- Attending drug or alcohol rehabilitation classes
- Abstinence from drugs and alcohol usage
Shorter Sentences Compared To Regular DUI Sentences
If you are found guilty of a wet reckless charge, you could spend up to 3 months or 90 days in jail. The penalties for a wet reckless are substantially less severe than the usual DUI conviction's term of six months or 180 days. The distinction between these punishments makes more sense for defendants convicted of probation rather than serving time in jail. Remember that in California, violating probation can result in maximum jail terms.
For example, if an individual violates the terms of his or her probation after receiving a wet reckless sentence, he or she would only be required to serve ninety days in jail. However, if the accused receives a regular DUI sentence, he/she would receive a sentence of no more than 180 days behind bars, which is twice as long as the wet reckless conviction.
Shorter California DUI School With No Obligatory License Suspension
A first-time wet reckless offender will be required to enroll in a DUI program for 6 weeks. This time frame is less than that of standard DUI offenders, who must spend 18 to 30 months in a DUI school. However, it's worth noting that getting convicted of wet reckless more than once can extend the DUI program requirement to nine months.
Wet Reckless Does Not Result in an Obligatory Suspension of a Commercial Driver's License
If a defendant pleads guilty of wet reckless, his or her commercial driving privileges would not be suspended until the two points issued to his or her DMV record exceeds the negligent driver limit.
Fines for a wet reckless conviction range from $145 to $1,000. On the other hand, if you receive the maximum court fine of $1,000, additional penalties are added on top of it, bringing the total fine for standard DUI convictions up to $3,000. For this reason, a defendant convicted of wet reckless would only have to pay half of the fines normally associated with DUI convictions.
IID Installation Is Not Mandatory
Installation of an IID under a wet reckless conviction is subject to the court's discretion, which implies that it's not mandatory even for repeat offenders. By not having an IID installed, you can avoid embarrassing situations and the expenses associated with calibration every 2 months. Repeat DUI offenders must have an ignition interlock device fitted in their vehicle.
The Drawbacks of a Wet Reckless Conviction
A wet reckless charge has its drawbacks as well. These downsides are:
- The DMV could still suspend or revoke your driving license
- Potential employers can learn about it
- California’s DMV adds 2 points on the driver’s negligent driver limit
- It's still priorable for 10 years
- Car insurance providers still perceive the charge as a DUI
Other Plea Deals Related to a Wet Reckless Conviction
You would violate California's PC 624f if you endanger the safety and well-being of other people and property by getting drunk to the point of not taking care of others. If the defendant fails to exercise caution or impedes other people from exercising their rights owing to his or her intoxication, he or she would be violating the law. The following factors must be established by the prosecution for a publicly drunk and disorderly charge to be proven:
- The accused was drunk in any public venue, such as a nightclub or a mall
- The accused was intentionally inebriated
- Because of his or her inebriation, the offender impeded, interfered with, or blocked people from using walkways and open spaces freely
A defendant facing charges of being drunk in public could raise one or more of the following defenses:
The Defendant Was Not In a Public Place
If the event that resulted in your arrest didn't take place in a public venue, such as a nightclub, the allegations would be dropped.
The Defendant Did Not Intentionally Use Drugs or Alcohol
If someone put a drug in the defendant’s meal or drink without their permission or if the accused consumed an alcohol-containing drink without knowing it, then he or she did not knowingly consume the drug that caused his or her impairment. Charges of being drunk or intoxicated in public would be dropped.
Lack of Proof
If a law enforcement officer arrested a defendant without witnessing any indications that he or she was a risk to himself/herself or the public, or that the accused was interfering with or blocking the usage of roads or public ways, the case would be dismissed as well.
This conviction attracts a maximum fine of $1000, serving no more than 6 months in jail, and informal probation. Repeat offenders are sentenced to at least ninety days in jail or 2 months in a drug or alcohol treatment session.
This kind of plea deal is covered under provisions of California PC 23109. This law makes it illegal to drive an automobile at speeds that would lead the perpetrator to lose control of his or her vehicle, risking the lives of other people due to intoxication or alcohol. Even though the vehicle's speed was within the limit, you could still be punished for speed exhibition. All that's required is proof that the motorist was speeding. A speed exhibition conviction can result in fines of no more than five hundred dollars, which is far less than regular DUI charges.
The following are the elements of a speed exhibition:
- The accused was operating a vehicle
- While driving, the accused intentionally propelled or accelerated the vehicle at high speeds in a way deemed dangerous or unsafe
- Overspeeding or accelerating quickly was done to impress or show off
- The defendant assists someone in committing an offense
Speed exhibition stands to benefit perpetrators in several ways over DUI convictions. These advantages include:
- Smaller fines of five hundred dollars
- Two-year probation instead of 3 to 5 years
- Less time in jail
- When someone commits a subsequent DUI crime, there is no priorable crime
This is a misdemeanor conviction that relates to motorists who exhibit reckless driving skills with no regard and concern for other people’s safety on the road or property. Once the defendant is successful in having the DUI charge for which he/she was arrested reduced via a plea bargain, then he/she would be convicted of dry reckless.
If the prosecution has a weak lawsuit and Title 17 was infringed, they would consent to this settlement. When any of the rules in California's Title 17 are violated, a defense attorney could show that the findings were inaccurate or had certain problems, making them unreliable. In that instance, the prosecution would opt for dry reckless.
Dry reckless offers several benefits to wet reckless. They are as follows:
- Wet reckless is a priorable crime, whereas dry reckless is not—If you're a second-time offender who had formerly pleaded guilty to wet reckless, the penalty for the 2nd crime would be increased because of the first conviction. However, even if the defendant had a prior DUI conviction, a dry reckless charge would be treated as a 1st crime
- In most cases, car insurance providers regard wet reckless to be a DUI conviction, which results in increased premiums or policy cancellation, whereas in a dry reckless conviction, the punishment is not judged to be alcohol or drug-related and so it can't result in the cancellation of the policy. However, the premiums could occasionally go up significantly
- Dry recklessness doesn’t affect your driving license since it's not tied to drinking—DUI or wet recklessness can affect commercial driving licenses and insurance. However, since dry recklessness is unrelated to drunk driving, insurance companies won't be overly worried about it. In light of this, you can expect to receive fewer questions concerning your conviction if you were charged with dry reckless as opposed to wet reckless as a commercial driver
Expungement of a Wet Reckless Charge
If you're wondering if a wet reckless conviction can be expunged, then the answer to that is yes. According to PC 1203.4, a defendant can have his or her wet reckless charges erased or cleared. However, the defendant must fulfill the following requirements to qualify for expungement:
- Completed your probation
- There are no outstanding criminal cases
After fulfilling these requirements and having your criminal record expunged, an individual can confidently state that he/she has never been found guilty of wet reckless or drunk driving. Wet reckless convictions, on the other hand, would remain priorable crimes and will be revealed if another DUI violation occurs within the 120-month range.
Consequences for Motorists Found Guilty of Wet Reckless
Wet reckless motorists are required to follow specific state laws. These rules include:
- First-time offenders are required to participate in a training course for at least ninety, 180, or even 270 days respectively, depending on the results of the chemical tests
- 12-hour personal counseling or 40 hours of group therapy under the supervision of California's health care
- For second-time offenders, a one-and-a-half-year program involving a 52-hour group session, 6 hours of supervision, weekly interviews, 12 hours of learning on the impacts of alcohol or drugs, and 18 months of DUI program education
- For 3rd and subsequent offenders, DUI School offers a 30-month program that comprises a 12-hour alcohol education course over 3 days, in addition to three hundred hours of participation in community service and personal interviews.
Although these rules are difficult to follow, with the correct commitment you could do them and have your driving privileges back after being found guilty of wet reckless.
FAQs About Wet Reckless
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about a wet reckless charge.
Do I Need SR-22 Insurance If Found Guilty Of Wet Reckless?
The requirement for SR-22 insurance is triggered by a loss or defeat at the DMV Administrative hearing and not a wet reckless conviction. The DMV would require an SR-22 before reinstating your driving privileges.
Why Should I Enter a Plea Deal on a Wet Reckless Conviction If It Would Still Count As A Prior When I Get A DUI Conviction in the Future?
A wet reckless conviction, which is used to persuade motorists charged with a DUI offense to enter a plea deal, has several benefits. A wet reckless is significantly better than a standard DUI conviction in terms of how it appears on a defendant's record, and it could be useful if the accused is seeking employment or already has one where a DUI charge could prevent him or her from getting certain clearances or certifications.
In addition, a Wet Reckless charge has a probation term that is lower than that of a DUI, which is normally three to five years. On the other hand, a wet reckless conviction usually carries a probation period of one to two years, and you would be more quickly eligible for an expungement under California PC 1203.4. A Wet Reckless also does not result in a driver's license suspension. DUI convictions for the first, second, and third times all result in immediate license suspensions, along with refusals to submit to chemical testing and underage DUI offenses.
How Long Will a Wet Reckless Conviction Remain on My Record?
Wet reckless convictions have lasting effects of up to ten years. This implies that if you're convicted of a wet reckless charge or a second DUI within ten years of the initial conviction, the courts will treat your case as a subsequent offense rather than a first one.
Find a Pasadena Defense Attorney Near Me
If a law enforcement officer arrests you for a DUI offense, it doesn't guarantee that you would be found guilty of the offense. With a solid legal defense and ideal strategy, such allegations could be dropped or lessened to wet reckless. You must act swiftly if you would like to secure a wet reckless plea deal. You can also deal with a qualified lawyer who is well-versed in California's DUI laws. At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we have seasoned attorneys who can assist you in putting together the best defense possible against your allegations. Call us today at 626-689-2277 to schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers in Pasadena, CA.