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Is a Wet Reckless a Better Plea Bargain Than DUI?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Nov 23, 2018

A wet reckless is a Vehicle Code Section 23103 violation where somebody is driving recklessly on the road and has alcohol in their system. Now, they may not necessarily be over the legal limit of .08, but there are 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 that you have alcohol in your system and 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. You have a drink in your system, and you're driving around recklessly. Maybe you're going through red lights. Perhaps you're swerving on the road. Perhaps you're weaving in and out of traffic. So, that's really what a wet reckless is.

On the good end, a wet reckless is 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 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 better, and if you can get a wet reckless versus a DUI, you should 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, if you had your choice between a wet reckless and a dry reckless, you'd pick the dry reckless, which 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 is that the punishment is usually less for a wet reckless. There's usually a lesser fine. Often, if you're able to plead to a wet reckless, you don't need to do a three-month alcohol program. However, 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 feasible, or maybe there's even something better than 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 for them to consider giving you a wet reckless. 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 should be designed to assess whether you can safely operate a motor vehicle.

So, if you're passing their tests according to them, which is not easy to do because they're looking for the failure so they can arrest you, then you've got some good arguments with the prosecutor — at least I do, to tell them, if they are passing the test. 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.

Many are 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.

Related Resources:
What are Some Lesser Charges in California DUI Cases?

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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