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How California Defines the “Wet Reckless” Driving Charge

A law enforcement officer cannot arrest you for wet reckless. Initially, you may be arrested for a DUI, and the California Department of Prosecution will institute charges against you. These charges can either be a first time DUI, repeat DUI, felony DUI, or commercial DUI, depending on the unique facts pertinent to your case.

Over time, we at the Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney have gathered valuable and immense experience in helping defendants facing drunk driving charges in Los Angeles. We can help in entering into a plea bargaining agreement with the prosecution. Thanks to plea bargaining, your DUI charges can be reduced to a wet reckless. This will enable you to avoid the harsh penalties of a DUI conviction, including hefty fines and lengthy jail terms.

When you accept a wet reckless plea, the prosecution will drop its DUI charges against you. Note that our primary goal is to assist you in having your DUI charges dismissed or obtaining an acquittal. We will only advise you to accept a wet reckless plea if we believe that you can't obtain an acquittal or a dismissal of your DUI charges. Read on to learn more about how the state of California defines the wet reckless driving charge.

What is Plea Bargaining?

The term ‘plea bargain’ can be legally defined as an agreement between a defense attorney and a prosecutor, where the end result is mutual concessions for both parties. For instance, the defense attorney may have his/her client plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence. Or rather, the prosecutor can drop some charges or have them reduced to less serious offenses.

Nowadays, courts are becoming increasingly more crowded due to a high number of criminal cases, and judges and prosecutors alike feel the pressure to dispense with them quickly. A criminal trial process is quite lengthy, and it can take even a couple of months, while a guilty plea can close a case in minutes. Moreover, criminal trials have unpredictable outcomes, while a plea bargain enables both the defense and the prosecution to determine the fate of the case. Due to these reasons, plea bargaining is quite common in the California Criminal Trial Justice System.

You can be offered a wet reckless plea as a consequence of a plea bargain. Your defense attorney can enter into a plea bargaining agreement with the prosecution at any stage of the trial. Some plea deals may be agreed upon before the prosecutor institutes criminal charges, while others may be negotiated for right before the jury announces its verdict. Also, some negotiations may culminate into plea bargains even when the defendant has already been convicted but has filed an appeal.

Which DUI Defendants Qualify for a Wet Reckless Plea?

As a DUI defendant, it isn’t a guarantee for you to obtain a wet reckless plea as part of a plea bargain. In most instances, the prosecutor may offer a DUI defendant a wet reckless plea as a plea bargain if he/she believes that his/her case is not strong enough.

First time DUI offenders are more likely to be offered wet reckless pleas as a consequence of plea bargaining when compared to individuals charged with repeat DUI. In fact, it is quite unlikely for a prosecutor to offer a second time or third time DUI offender a wet reckless plea after plea bargaining.

You will be in an extremely advantageous position if you have been charged with repeat DUI, but you still get an offer from the prosecution to accept a wet reckless plea. This is because you won’t receive any sentencing enhancements, including longer jail terms, larger fines, and lengthy probation terms, which individuals convicted of repeat DUI normally expect.

The Penalties for Wet Reckless

The penalties for wet reckless are less severe than DUI court-imposed punishments. For instance, as a DUI convict, the minimum fine you will have to pay is $390. Certain court fees and penalty assessments could raise this amount of money. On the other hand, convicts of wet reckless are not required to pay any fine.

Moreover, wet reckless convicts aren’t obliged to serve mandatory jail terms. The typical court-imposed penalty for wet reckless is a probation term, which is generally shorter than a DUI probation term with less restrictive conditions.

During probation, you will be required to attend a DUI educational program. However, the court will not suspend your driver’s license.

Note that if you are charged with DUI within ten years after you have been convicted of wet reckless; the court will treat you as a repeat offender. This means that a wet reckless plea counts as a priorable offense.

Advantages of a Wet Reckless

You should consult a DUI defense attorney before accepting a wet reckless plea. Generally, a wet reckless plea will enable you to avoid the much harsher DUI penalties, such as hefty fines and lengthy prison terms. In a nutshell, here are the advantages of a wet reckless plea:

  • You will not face the same societal stigmatization a DUI convict would
  • If you have been employed as a driver, you will not lose your job due to a conviction of wet reckless
  • You will not have to face mandatory jail time
  • The court will not require you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car
  • You will attend a DUI educational program for a much shorter period
  • You won’t be obliged to pay a hefty court-imposed fine
  • The probation period upon conviction is quite shorter, usually 1-2 years
  • The court will not suspend your driver’s license

Disadvantages of a Wet Reckless

A wet reckless counts as a priorable offense. This means that if you ever get convicted of DUI within ten years from the date of the wet reckless conviction, you will face sentencing enhancements that are generally imposed to repeat DUI offenders.

Moreover, the DMV will still make you receive two points on your driver’s record. This will increase the risk of a suspension on your license, as well as trigger higher auto-insurance costs.

A wet reckless conviction will also affect your criminal record. This will make some employers unwilling to hire you, or you may lose out on opportunities such as scholarships, university admissions, and business grants.

Due to these reasons, you should speak to an experienced DUI defense attorney about whether or not to accept a wet reckless plea. This way, you will make the best decision, as well as obtain the most favorable outcome in your case.

DMV Hearings for Wet Reckless

Even though the court will not suspend your driver’s license once you accept a wet reckless plea, the DMV can still impose an administrative suspension on your license. This is why you must request a DMV hearing within ten days from the date of arrest to protect your driving privileges.

Usually, a DMV hearing occurs immediately after you have requested it. But, you can still ask for a delay to enable your defense attorney to finalize the plea negotiations for wet reckless.

DMV hearings are ordinarily informal, and they can even take place over a phone call. However, you will still be required to adduce evidence, challenge the credibility of the prosecution's evidence, as well as present and cross-examine witnesses.

A wet reckless plea does not affect the outcome of the DMV hearing. It just triggers the hearing officer to be more lenient in your case.

If the DMV decides to suspend your license after you have already been convicted of wet reckless, you will have to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for you to drive. Also, you will require SR-22 insurance for you to get back your license. On the other hand, if you win your DMV hearing after accepting a wet reckless plea, your driving privileges will remain intact. Also, winning your DMV hearing before plea bargaining for wet reckless will boost the chances of an amicable agreement between your attorney and the prosecutor.

Don’t risk losing your driving privileges by attempting to speak out for yourself in a DMV hearing. Instead, you should hire a DUI defense attorney to represent you and help you obtain a favorable outcome.

Expungement of a Wet Reckless Conviction

According to California PC 1203.4, you can expunge your wet reckless conviction. However, there are several conditions that you must fulfill, including not having any pending criminal charges and adhering to all the probation conditions.

Once expunged, you will be able to state without fearing perjury charges that the court has never convicted you of either wet reckless or DUI. Furthermore, no person can know that you have ever been convicted via a criminal background check.

However, the wet reckless conviction will still be considered as priorable. If you face a subsequent charge, you will be subjected to sentencing enhancements, including more jail time and larger fines.

Other Plea Bargaining Options

The prosecution may offer other plea bargaining options such as:

  • Dry reckless
  • Exhibition of speed
  • Drunk in public

In most instances, it is a wet reckless plea that is usually offered. However, these other plea bargaining options, which we have mentioned are much better than a wet reckless plea, because they do not count as priorable offenses. Let’s discuss each of them in greater detail:

1. Dry Reckless

A dry reckless is a California traffic offense, which is categorized as a misdemeanor. An individual can be charged with dry reckless if he/she drives in a manner that demonstrates a blatant disregard for the safety of property or persons.

A DUI defendant can obtain a dry reckless plea during plea bargaining, as per the facts and circumstances of his/her case. Unlike wet reckless and DUI, dry reckless is not categorized as a priorable offense. It also has less lenient penalties, such as shorter jail terms, no obligation to install an ignition interlock device, reduced probation time, and lower fines.

The main difference between dry reckless and wet reckless is that wet reckless involves alcohol while dry reckless does not. A dry reckless plea will not trigger SR-22 requirements or affect your driver’s license.

2. Exhibition of Speed

A prosecutor can charge you with an exhibition of speed as an offense by itself, or it can be utilized as a potential plea bargain in your DUI court case. According to California’s traffic laws, an individual can be charged with an exhibition of speed if he/she drives or accelerates at a speed that is unsafe or dangerous, with an intention to impress someone else or show off.

For you to be convicted of the offense of exhibition of speed, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:

  • You had been driving
  • You intentionally or willfully drove or accelerated at a speed that is unsafe or dangerous
  • You had an aim to impress someone else or show off

However, if you accept an exhibition of speed plea, it won’t be necessary for the prosecution to prove the above-listed elements. Exhibition of speed can be categorized as either a misdemeanor or an infraction. As an infraction, you will only pay a fine not exceeding $250, and it won’t affect your criminal record. The penalties for misdemeanor exhibition of speed include a county jail term of up to 90 days, a fine not exceeding $500, or a two-year summary probation period.

3. Drunk in Public

It is not a criminal offense to appear drunk in public. What Penal Code 647(f) criminalizes is being overly intoxicated that you can't exercise reasonable caution to protect yourself and other individuals from danger, or you start interfering with, preventing, or obstructing others from utilizing public facilities.

The California Department of Prosecution can directly charge you with drunk in public as an offense, or it can be a potential plea bargain option in your DUI case. The penalties for drunk in public include a county jail term of a maximum of six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or informal probation. This plea bargain option is quite suitable to defendants who are facing charges for repeat DUI and in instances where the prosecutor doesn’t have sufficient evidence to demonstrate that you were driving while under the influence.

Find a Los Angeles DUI Defense Attorney Near Me

If you or your loved one is facing DUI charges, you can reach out to us for help at Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney. Depending on your situation, we can build for you an excellent defense strategy, or obtain a suitable plea bargain. Call us today at 323-464-6700 for a free consultation.

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Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney
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