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How Can You Get a Wet Reckless Instead of a DUI?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Jul 25, 2022

This is one of the primary requests I receive. Someone wants a wet reckless instead of a first-time DUI. The difference between the two is not overly significant. 

A wet reckless means driving recklessly on the road with alcohol in your system. Whereas in a DUI, you are driving in an unsafe manner and can't safely operate your motor vehicle due to alcohol or drugs in your system.

How Can You Get a Wet Reckless Instead of a DUI?

Wet reckless is a charge reduction described under Vehicle Code 23103.5 VC. It is often offered by a prosecutor as a plea bargain for charges of Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC, driving under the influence, or Vehicle Code C 23152(b) VC, driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.

When people get arrested for DUIs, they often get in their heads that they want to make their case a wet reckless instead of a DUI. 

First of all, you have to understand what a wet reckless is.  It's a conviction for a misdemeanor and says that you were driving recklessly and had alcohol in your system. 

It is a step below a DUI, but it's not that far of a step below a DUI because it is still priorable, meaning if you get convicted of a wet reckless. Then you get another wet reckless, or you get a DUI, it would be counted as a second time, and obviously, the punishments would be harsher. 

So, what's the difference between wet and dry reckless? The primary difference between a “wet” and a “dry” reckless is if the criminal record will note that alcohol or drugs were involved in the crime.  A “wet” conviction has this type of notification, while a “dry” does not. Our Los Angeles DUI attorneys will examine this topic further below.

Was Your BAC Close to the Legal Limit?

Ideas for getting a wet reckless are (1) if your blood alcohol level is close to the legal limit.  The closer to the legal limit, the better argument your attorney will have that they may be able to beat the case in a jury trial, and therefore, the prosecutor should give you a wet reckless. Other reasons why they would do it are:

  • if you have no criminal record, and
  • you weren't driving dangerously related to the DUI.

That's one big thing for prosecutors.  I've even seen in cases where the person blew a .08, which we can usually get a speed contest on, that the prosecutors won't give the speed contest because of dangerous activity:

  • driving 100 mph and nearly hitting somebody on the road;
  • having multiple DUIs is another reason they won't give you a lesser charge even though you're close to the legal limit.

But, if you have no record, you blew a .08 – even if you blew a little bit higher than that – there is a chance to get a wet reckless because the prosecutors will give you a break sometimes, depending on the circumstances of your case. 

Were You Driving Dangerously on the Road?

So, the answer, as far as ideas to get a wet reckless, is to convince the prosecutor that you weren't dangerous on the road – that's up to your attorney to show the below.

California DUI Defense Attorney
  • having a low blood alcohol level,
  • not doing anything like dangerous driving,
  • being able to come close to passing the field sobriety tests is another angle I've used to get a wet reckless.

Sometimes the police are honest in their assessment of the person, and they say the person was cooperative, which is a huge factor the prosecutors look at in determining whether someone is driving under the influence and can't safely operate a motor vehicle because somebody is drunk and belligerent, that person they don't like. 

Somebody who is cooperative with the police and does what they say, that person is more likely to be able to convince a jury that they might not be under the influence of alcohol to the level that they can't safely operate their case.

So, they're going to look at the field sobriety tests, and if you can pass some of them, you've got a shot at getting a wet reckless in a case. 

How Can You Get a Wet Reckless Plea Deal?

First, the prosecutor and the defendant must agree to a wet reckless plea bargain, and then the court must approve the plea deal.

After the agreement, the defendant will be allowed to plead guilty or “nolo contendere” (no contest) to reckless driving. The judge will then dismiss the DUI charges and notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) DMV of the conviction.

DUI Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles

Whether or not a “wet reckless” is a good plea bargain will always depend on the circumstances of the case. For example, perhaps a defendant already has a DUI or wet reckless on their record. California has a ten-year period where they can look back for alcohol or drug-related driving offenses.

As you can see, some of the ideas all center around safety.  The police, the prosecutors, and the judges are zeroed in on protecting the public. 

So, the better argument that your attorney can mount is that you weren't dangerous on the road – for example, you didn't get pulled over because you were going 100 mph; you didn't get pulled over because you were driving dangerously. 

You got pulled over, for example, because you didn't have your lights on.  Maybe they're claiming you made an illegal lane change.  That stuff is a kind of tick-tack argument for pulling you over. 

They're allowed to do it, but we can mount the argument that you shouldn't get a full-fledged DUI; instead, you should get a wet reckless.

So, if you want the best, you've come to the right place.  Pick up the phone now.  Let my 30 years of experience go to work for you.  I've worked for the district attorney's office, I've worked for a superior court judge, and I've been defending people just like you since the early 1990s. 

Pick up the phone.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. The top-ranked Hedding Law Firm provides a free case consultation by phone or using the contact form.

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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