Why Is A Wet Reckless Better Than A DUI?

When it comes to DUI’s I hear a lot of people talking about wet reckless.  They’re not necessarily that much better than a DUI, although if I had my choice between a DUI and a wet reckless, obviously I would pick a wet reckless.  But there’s other charges that are better than a wet reckless.  For example, a dry reckless is much better because it doesn’t involve alcohol, there’s less punishment, it doesn’t trigger a number of things and it’s not priorable.

Priorability has to do with getting a wet reckless and then in the future you get another DUI within ten years, then it would count as a second-time DUI.  So, that makes the wet reckless priorable and obviously, that’s not something  you want to have on your record.  Insurance companies will not look favorably on you if you have a wet reckless on your record.  It’s probably going to cause your insurance rate to go up.

Dry Reckless & Speed Contest

In my opinion, although a wet reckless is definitely better than a DUI — and I would rather have that on my record than a DUI in Los Angeles — there are still other charges related to DUI’s that you’d rather have on your record than a wet reckless.  In addition to a dry reckless, a speed contest would be a much better charge in Los Angeles than a wet reckless.

Then the next question is, if you’re not able to get a dry reckless or speed contest or something less than a DUI, how could you get a wet reckless?

Factor of Having a  Prior Criminal Record

What it really boils down to — the factors that I’ve seen in practicing DUI defense over the course of the last twenty-five years is — whether you have any prior criminal record involving bad driving or any record that involves a DUI.

If you do, it’s going to make it a lot more difficult to get a wet reckless.  On the other hand, if you have a clean record and your blood alcohol level was close to the legal limit, then you’re in a much stronger position to argue for a wet reckless.

The range, in general — because it varies depending on a bunch  of different factors — but being a .10, .11, .12 and not having any record and not doing anything egregious during your stop for a DUI, puts you in a much stronger position to be able to argue for a wet reckless.

Punishment for Wet Reckless

The next question that we probably see when we deal with these types of offenses is, what are the punishments related to wet reckless’ in Los Angeles.  Basically, if you are convicted of a wet reckless, the punishment is negotiable, meaning the prosecutors can offer whatever they want.

Sometimes they say, we gave you something better than a DUI and therefore, we are not going to change the punishment.  You’re still going to do a fine that’s $390 plus penalty assessment.  You’re still going to do the three-month alcohol program.

You’re still going to be on probation for three years, but we will give you that wet reckless so your record looks a little bit better than if you got a full-fledged DUI in Los Angeles County.

So, that is one thing that the prosecutors can do when it comes to a wet reckless conviction.  Another thing is they can give you a smaller fine.  Instead of $390 plus penalty assessment — which works its way out to about $2,000, they could give you $240 plus penalty assessment which saves you a significant amount of money once they tack that 200% penalty assessment on you related to your DUI matter.

So, one area they could help you is with the fine.  They could also put you on less probation.  For example, they could put you on a two year or one year probation if the prosecutors were so inclined.  That would obviously be better than the typical three to five year probation that comes along with a first-time DUI.

Typically, you’re not going to get jail time on a first-time DUI in Los Angeles.  But, if it’s a second-time DUI, you are going to get mandatory jail time.  You could avoid that jail time by getting wet reckless.  That’s probably one of the biggest benefits that I see that a wet reckless gives you in Los Angeles — is avoiding jail time for a second offense.

Avoiding Alcohol Program

So, that’s one area that you can save as far as a wet reckless goes.  Also, you could sometimes avoid having to do the alcohol program when it comes to a wet reckless conviction.  The only time you’ll need to do the alcohol program is if you want to get your driver’s license back.  Then you’ll have to do it — even if you get a wet reckless and no license suspension.

Consult With Our Los Angeles DUI Lawyers

So, the bottom line is, if you have a situation where you’re arrested for a DUI and you need some help.  Give me call.  We’ll sit down and strategize how to get you the lowest possible resolution.  If a dismissal is in the cards for you, we’ll try to get that.  If not, we’ll try to get you something lower than a first-offense DUI in Los Angeles, and if the wet reckless is the right thing to get based on your circumstances, that’s what we will shoot for.

Hedding Law Firm
Los Angeles DUI Lawyers
633 West Fifth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
213-542-0963

Related Resources:
How can I get my DUI reduced to reckless driving?
DUI Reportability Requirements

What Other Charges Are Possible Besides a DUI in Los Angeles?

When you’re arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, obviously it’s scary and terrifying because your freedom is taken away from you for a period of time.  You’re taken to jail.  Your license is typically taken away and obviously, you’re fearful that you could be facing jail time, probation and a mark on your record that is very difficult to get off.

California Vehicle Code 23152 – Offenses Involving Alcohol and Drugs

So, one thing to consider is what type of charges are you going to be facing?  I mean, in a typical DUI situation, the police book you for certain charges and they give it to the prosecutors — who are the lawyers who actually decide what charges will be filed.  On a first-time DUI for example, they’re usually going to file a Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) and (b). There are two charges.

One says that you had alcohol in your system and you couldn’t safely operate a motor vehicle.  That’s what the field sobriety tests are supposed to determine — whether you can safely operate a motor vehicle — depending on whether you pass or fail them.

The other charge is California Vehicle Code 23152(b) which says if you have a .08 or greater, it’s presumed that you can’t safely operate a motor vehicle.  As you notice, everything has to do with safety and your danger level out on the road and protecting the community at large from people who drink alcohol and drive in a dangerous manner.

Type of Criminal Charges Will Depend On Various Factors

So, those are the charges you’re going to be charged with.  As far as what you’re facing, it really depends on a bunch of different factors:  how high your blood alcohol level is; how your driving was; how you performed on the field sobriety test; what your criminal record looks like; what your driving record looks like.

So, other potential charges, which is kind of the subject of this article are, at the low end, you could get an infraction — some sort of a moving violation.

Because the police have to pull you over for something.  They usually claim you’re weaving or swerving on the road — some sort of a California Vehicle Code violation — running a stop sign.  A lot of people driving with no lights on.  All kinds of different things.  So, they could just give you a traffic ticket.  That would be great if you had been booked for a DUI and that’s all you end up with.

To get something like that, you’re going to have to have a really low blood alcohol level and the prosecutors are going to have to perceive that they’ve got a problem with their case and they might lose the whole thing.  So, that’s where I see them just trying to get something — not necessarily to safe face, but to show that they did something about it even though the blood alcohol level is not that high.

Non-Alcohol Related Speed Contest VC 23109

Going up from there, realistically in Los Angeles County, you’re probably looking at a speed contest which is basically screeching your wheels out of a parking lot.  That could be a California Vehicle Code 23109(a) speed contest and that’s not a DUI.  It’s not alcohol-related.  It’s a misdemeanor.  It carries a couple of points on your record, but the punishment for that is a lot less than for a DUI.

So, in DUI-land in Los Angeles, that’s a pretty good resolution if your attorney can get it.  Usually, you’re going to have to be in the .08 range to get something like that where the attorney can just make the argument that the breath machine used to test my client has an error rate of .02.  Your own experts can say that, so you might as well just give him a speed contest.  You could lose the case in a trial.

Reckless Driving – California Vehicle Code 23103

Moving up from there, I would say a reckless driving — and there’s a dry reckless which has nothing to do with alcohol.  You’re just driving around the road recklessly.  That would be a good result in a DUI, but another difficult one to get.  The prosecutors really don’t like to give that again, unless your blood alcohol level is so low that they might lose the case, or again, they have some glaring factual problem to be able to prove the DUI against you.

Wet Reckless

The wet reckless is the next level up.  That says that you’re driving recklessly and you do have alcohol in your system.  That’s not a full-fledged DUI.  In my opinion, that’s better than a DUI conviction, but it’s still priorable.  It could still be used against you if you were to pick up another DUI in the future.  And then of course, there’s a regular DUI which are those coded sections mentioned above.

There’s higher-level DUI’s in my opinion where you get a refusal allegation or where your blood alcohol level is higher than a .15.  That would make the DUI more serious and bring potentially harsher penalties.  Of course, you have a felony DUI with the mandatory minimum 90-day jail term if you get hit with that and there’s also multiple DUI’s — your second, third or fourth-time DUI — all of which carry more serious penalties than a first-time DUI.

DUI With Great Bodily Injury

There’s also DUI with great bodily injury.  If somebody gets hurt very badly during the DUI process, then that could be a three-year enhancement tacked onto the back of whatever you get for the DUI.  So, there’s a whole host of different things that can happen in a DUI.

That’s why when people tell me, I’ll just go in there and represent myself, it’s just a DUI.  There’s not much I can do about it.  Well, sometimes you can do something about it; sometimes you can’t.  But with all those potential resolutions out there — and we haven’t even talked about punishment yet — you’re going to need to get an attorney who knows what they’re doing who is local to the court where your case is pending and who knows how to get the best result for you and do damage control when it comes to a DUI in Los Angeles.

Hedding Law Firm
Los Angeles DUI Defense Lawyers
633 West Fifth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
213-542-0963

Related Resources:
California Vehicle Code 23109(a)  – Speed Contest 
California Vehicle Code 23153 – DUI Causing Injury

Related Articles

Is a Wet Reckless a better plea bargain than a DUI in Los Angeles?

A wet reckless is basically a Vehicle Code Section 23103 violation where somebody is driving recklessly on the road and they have alcohol in their system.  Now, they may not necessarily be over the legal limit of .08, but there’s really two ways for the prosecutors to get a conviction related to a DUI in Los Angeles.

One is that if your blood alcohol level is a .08 or greater, then it’s presumed that you’re driving under the influence for purposes of a DUI in Los Angeles.  The other way is you have alcohol in your system and you can’t safely operate a motor vehicle.  That amount of alcohol could be less than the .08 required for the presumption to exist.  That’s where you start talking about wet reckless.  The wet part is obviously, you have alcohol in your system and you’re driving around recklessly.  Maybe you’re going through red lights.  Maybe you’re swerving on the road.  Maybe you’re weaving in and out of traffic.  So, that’s really what a wet reckless is.

Wet Reckless is a Lesser Charge than DUI

On the good end, a wet reckless is definitely less than a DUI and maybe for insurance purposes, it may help you depending on your insurance company, and for other DUI’s that you might have, if you get a wet reckless, that won’t trigger a second, third or fourth DUI.  So, it definitely does have its benefits.  There’s also an argument that it looks better on your record than a DUI.

On the negative end, a wet reckless is priorable.  Meaning, it could be used against you in a future prosecution.  So, if you plead guilty to a wet reckless in one of the Los Angeles courthouses and then you pick up another DUI later within a ten-year time frame, they can use that wet reckless as a prior and then you’d have a second-time DUI under that scenario.  So, a wet reckless is definitely better, and if you can get a wet reckless versus a DUI, you should definitely try to do that and your attorney will try to do that for you.

A dry reckless would be even better than that because that has nothing to do with alcohol.  It doesn’t come with the same punishments.  It doesn’t come with the same issues related to DUI’s — it’s not priorable.  So, obviously if you had your choice between a wet reckless and a dry reckless, you’d just pick the dry reckless, which basically means you’re driving recklessly on the road but doesn’t have anything to do with alcohol.

Wet Reckless has a Lesser Fine

Another reason a wet reckless would be better than a DUI, usually for a wet reckless the punishment is less.  There’s usually a lesser fine.  A lot of times if you’re able to plead to a wet reckless, it’s not mandatory that you do a three-month alcohol program, although you may want to do one with the DMV because if they take your license away, they will not give it back unless you do whatever alcohol program is required by statute.

So, if you’re thinking about a wet reckless and you think that is something you might want under the circumstances of your case, obviously this is something you should discuss with your DUI defense attorney and see if that’s something that’s feasible, or maybe there’s even something better that they can get than a wet reckless.

To get a wet reckless in Los Angeles county — and I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years, there’s either going to have to be some big problem with the case so the prosecutors will give you a wet reckless instead of risking losing at a jury trial and getting nothing, or your blood alcohol level is going to have to be close to the .08 — I would say within four percentage points in order for them to consider giving you a wet reckless, and I’ve been to every court in Los Angeles county dealing with DUI’s.  I’ve done hundreds of DUI’s over my twenty-five year career so I think I have a pretty good feel for how prosecutors deal with them.

Field Sobriety Tests

Other facts that could give you a good argument to get something less than a DUI like a wet reckless, dry reckless, speed contest — would be that you can pass some of the tests that the police administer when they pull you over.  Those field sobriety tests are supposed to be designed to assess whether you can safely operate a motor vehicle.

So, if you’re passing their tests according to them, which obviously is not easy to do because they’re looking for the fail so they can arrest you, then you’ve got some good arguments with the prosecutor — at least I do, to tell them, if he or she is passing the test, then there’s a good argument that they can safely operate a motor vehicle.  Hence, that will rebut any presumption related to a .08 and would be a good argument if they charged you under Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) and tried to say you had alcohol in your system and therefore, can’t safely operate a motor vehicle, yet you’re passing the exact test designed to determine whether you can safely operate a motor vehicle.

Contact our Los Angeles DUI Lawyers

There’s a lot going on in these wet reckless cases and DUI cases across Los Angeles.  Your best bet because it is so important to try to keep your record as clean as possible, and to protect your ability to drive and to stay out of jail, is to get an attorney who’s been down this road before and could get you out of the system as fast as possible and do damage control related to your DUI case. Contact our law firm to review your case.

Hedding Law Firm
633 West Fifth Street Los Angeles, CA 90071
213-542-0963

Related Resources:
Why Is A Wet Reckless Better Than A DUI?