Thursday, July 18, 2013

So what exactly is a "Wet Reckless" anyway?

You might have heard a friend talk about it (especially if you're friends with a DUI lawyer) or maybe you've come across the term while researching DUI law. A wet reckless, or VC 23103.5 is a "plea to a lesser charge", the "greater charge" being violations of VC 23152(a)/(b), your common DUI offense. So what exactly is a wet reckless? (and no, it's not an adult movie). A wet reckless is a subdivision of VC 23103, or reckless driving. A wet reckless, unlike a DUI, carries significantly less penalties than does a DUI, and is only offered as a "plea bargain" to a regular DUI charge.

So what are the advantages to a wet reckless? Well, there's no mandatory DMV suspension with a wet reckless. The "alcohol school" MAY be shorter (6 weeks compared to 3 months for 1st time DUI). The fines and penalties will be lessened. Plus you'll be looking at shorter jail times and probationary periods.

But WHAT is the REAL advantage of a wet reckless? The true beauty of a plea to wet reckless involves cases where the accused has prior DUIs. Let me give you an example. Suppose Mr. X goes out and parties one night (very hard I might add), proceeds to drive home, and is arrested. If he's convicted of a DUI, that DUI will "stay on his record" (at least with respect to sentence enhancements) for 10 years. Now Mr. X, being the socialite that he is, violates California drinking and driving laws again in 4 years from his initial DUI conviction. He's subsequently convicted for VC 23152(b) (DUI) and will have to spend at least 96 hours in jail (or an alternative such as "house arrest"), in addition to the other fines and penalties he'll face (e.g. 18 month drink-driver program plus DMV suspensions of two years, restriction-eligible in 1 year).

Here's where it gets interesting. Say Mr. X after another 5 years (so we're within the 10 year "look back" period) gets arrested and charged for yet another DUI. A 3rd DUI, among other things, carries with it a 120 day minimum jail sentence. In addition to 4 months minimum in jail, he could lose his job (how's he going to be able to go to work while he's in jail?). However, depending on his BAC and various other factors, if through the skill and expertise of his DUI lawyer, the DA agrees to let him plead to the lesser charge of a wet reckless (instead of his 3rd DUI), Mr. X would face little to no jail time. Sounds like a good deal don't you think? Plus, for all the other reasons previously mentioned (less fines, less alcohol school, less probation), he'd keep his job too. That's the true advantage of a wet reckless - a few days in jail vs. 120, you can do the math on this one.

Now, we're not done. Mr. X, in a jubilant mood due his not having to go to jail, goes out and parties hard again, drives home, arrested and charged with another DUI. DA shows no mercy, and he gets convicted of what he thinks is his 3rd DUI. Sounds good right, better than a felony right (4th DUI is a felony)? No, wrong. A wet reckless is a "priorable" offense, meaning the wet reckless plea he took in place of a 3rd DUI (saving him the 120 days in jail in our above example) now does a 180 and is considered a "prior DUI offense" for sentencing purposes. So that "3rd DUI" he got is in essence, his 4th DUI for sentencing purposes, because the wet reckless counted as a prior DUI offense. He's looking at a quite a bit more than 120 days in jail for a felony DUI conviction...

So the wet reckless can be great in some situations, but offenders with prior wet reckless convictions must be very careful to avoid future DUIs, since that "wet reckless" will come back to bite them in the derrière.

If you have a DUI related question or need to speak to a DUI attorney, visit or call 949-440-3240.

No comments:

Post a Comment