Wet reckless is the most common plea deal offered to DUI offenders in San Jose who have a good chance of winning at trial. However, this doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed the plea every time you are charged with DUI. Prosecutors may deny you the deal especially if you are a subsequent offender and they have high chances of winning at trial.

Since it does not come easily, the only possible way you can secure a wet reckless plea deal is by presenting a solid argument in your defense. Having the ideal legal representation will highly increase your chances of success. Therefore, it is important that you contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as you are arrested. Attorneys at San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm are familiar with DUI cases and will help you to determine whether reducing your DUI charges to a wet reckless is the ideal option for your case.

Understanding Wet Reckless Charges

Wet reckless is an unofficial term given to a DUI charge reduction. It is authorized by VC 23103.5 to be granted in plea bargains as an alternative offense to driving while intoxicated under Vehicle Code 23152(a) or driving with a .08% or more BAC under Vehicle Code 23152(b).

Note that you cannot be arrested and charged with wet reckless. When you agree to a wet reckless plea deal, you are simply pleading guilty to reckless driving. The only difference is, a wet reckless conviction results from DUI plea bargaining and has a notation showing you used alcohol, drugs, or both before driving.

In case you are arrested and charged on DUI allegations, the prosecutor will review the DUI charges against you, your record of offenses related to DUI, and your BAC at the time of your arrest. If he or she believes your offense is relatively minor or he/she lacks the necessary proof to get you convicted, he/she might offer a plea deal of a wet reckless. Additionally, if your attorney presents a strong defense, it may compel the prosecutor to settle for a plea deal, so he/she doesn’t lose the case.

However, a wet reckless plea bargain isn’t a guarantee. In most cases, it is only granted during the first DUI offense. The chances of the prosecution offering it to second DUI offenders are very slim. Though, even if you are a repeat offender and can manage to convince the prosecutor to offer you this plea deal, you can benefit greatly by accepting it.

There are several advantages, as we will expound later, that a wet reckless has over a DUI conviction. For instance, the main reason you should consider taking the deal is that the penalties will be less severe. If convicted of a wet reckless, you will face a shorter jail sentence, lower fines, and a reduced probation period. Additionally, your license won’t be automatically suspended like it would if convicted of DUI.

Despite its several advantages, there are also disadvantages that come with pleading guilty of a wet reckless. For instance, its conviction would still negatively affect your car insurance, your license may end up being suspended after all, and it still counts as a past DUI conviction if you get a subsequent DUI. Thus, your attorney may advise you accordingly, if your case has a very strong defense, you may go to trial whereby you have a chance of winning. Winning would eliminate all the penalties, even the disadvantages of the wet reckless that you would have faced.

It is therefore wise to hire yourself a skilled DUI attorney if you are facing DUI charges. You can consult with him or her on what legal interests are at stake if you plead guilty to a wet reckless.

How You Can Secure a Plea Deal of a Wet Reckless

Your attorney and the prosecutor have to agree to a plea deal of a wet reckless, and the deal must also be approved by the court. After everyone is contented with the deal, your attorney will allow you to enter a plea of no contest or plead guilty to the wet reckless offense. After you have pleaded guilty or no contest, the judge will dismiss the drunk driving charges against you and inform the DMV about the conviction.

Is Wet Reckless the Best Plea Deal You Can Get?

Whether a reckless driving plea deal is the best deal you can receive or not, is based on the facts surrounding your case. Particularly, it might be based on whether or not you already have a wet reckless or DUI conviction on your record.

California state laws look back to up to ten years for drugs and alcohol driving offenses. This means that every time you are found guilty of a DUI offense within ten years of the previous conviction, the penalties for your current crime increase. Thus, a wet reckless offense is considered ‘priorable’ just like other DUI offenses.

The Benefits of Getting a Wet Reckless Plea Deal

There are several advantages one can have if he/she accepts to be convicted of a wet reckless as opposed to being convicted of DUI. They include:

Lower fines

When you are convicted of a wet reckless, you will generally pay a low amount in fines as compared to DUI. Typically, the maximum fine an offender pays for either DUI or wet reckless is $1,000. However, after the court imposes penalty assessments, the total fines for DUI cases can shoot up to $3,000. Thus, practically, wet reckless fines will be roughly half of the total DUI fines.

A reduced jail time

A DUI conviction carries up to six months of county jail time for first-time offenders and up to a one year sentence for second, third, or subsequent offenders. On the other hand, when charged with wet reckless, you will serve a maximum of only 90 days in county jail.

This difference may be significant, especially if your sentence is probation rather than jail time. If you violate the terms of probation after being convicted of DUI or wet reckless, a probation violation hearing will be held. If it is found that you indeed violated the probation terms, the judge may nullify the probation and sentence you to a full maximum jail sentence.

A less compulsory jail sentence for a person with past DUI convictions

As we noted earlier, wet reckless charges have a generally reduced jail sentence than DUI charges. This difference is significantly notable if you have one or several past DUI convictions on your record. A wet reckless conviction is counted as DUI when determining past offenses.

The compulsory minimum jail sentences for DUI repeat offenders are at least 90 days sentence in a county jail for second-time offenders and at least 120 days of a county jail sentence for third-time offenders. However, the minimum county jail sentence if convicted of a wet reckless will be just five days. The five-day minimum time applies irrespective of the number of prior wet reckless or DUI convictions you have.

A shorter probation term

A typical DUI has its probation period ranging from three to five years. However, the probation period, when convicted of a wet reckless usually ranges from one to two years only.

The shorter probation period is advantageous because for you to expunge a wet reckless or DUI conviction, you first have to complete your probation sentence. Thus, the shorter the probation, the faster you will complete and have a chance to expunge your record. 

Another reason is that until your conviction record is deleted, it will reflect on background checks conducted by companies, which may be hard for you to land a job. With a shorter probation period, it means your conviction record will show on background checks only for a short time since you will expunge it after completing probation. This increases the chances of getting employment despite having been convicted.

It is worth noting that per the laws of California, an employer is not to inquire about your criminal conviction history during a job application or initial interview. They can only inquire about it after they have made a conditional job offer. However, the conviction record will still appear if the employer conducts a background check. Also, an employer is prohibited from automatically denying anyone a job due to a conviction.

In addition to a wet reckless conviction resulting in a quick possible expungement, it carries less stigma compared to a DUI charge.

A reduced DUI school period

If convicted for the first time of a wet reckless, your penalties would include enrolment in an alcohol school program for six weeks. This is still shorter compared to a drunk driving conviction where the alcohol program would take at least three months.

If convicted for the second or subsequent times of a wet reckless within ten years, the alcohol program period would increase to nine months. This is also still less compared to eighteen or thirty months of DUI School you will face after a second or subsequent DUI offense conviction within ten years.

No compulsory court-ordered driver’s license suspension

In case you have been convicted of DUI, it is mandatory that your driver’s license is suspended. On the other hand, it is not compulsory for your license to be suspended if convicted of a wet reckless. The license suspension will only be triggered in case the points on your DMV record put you over the limit of a negligent operator.

A wet reckless conviction will add two points in case you were in a standard motor vehicle, and you had a regular Class C driver’s license. As stipulated in VC 12810.5a, if your driver’s license is in the Class C category, it will only be suspended in the case you accumulate:

  • Four points or more in one year

  • Six points or more in two years

  • Eight points or more in three year

A possible reduced effect on a person’s professional license

Reckless DUI driving conviction will have a reduced impact on your professional license compared to a DUI conviction. In case you get convicted of DUI, you risk facing a professional driver’s license hearing in case the DUI is substantially connected to your job.

The hearing will most likely take place when you hold or are seeking to have a healthcare license. For example, the licenses that doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and veterinarians are required to have.

Losing your professional license due to a DUI conviction may not be certain. However, the conviction usually triggers an investigation. It may prompt the licensing board to take action against you if it doesn’t like your explanation regarding the facts and circumstances that led to your conviction.

When it comes to wet reckless, it is unlikely that its conviction will trigger the consequences mentioned above. Even though your conviction would still be escalated to any licensing board and the DMV, the fact that the prosecutor reduced your charges might help prevent the board from taking disciplinary action. 

However, it is important to keep in mind that while it is not obligatory for you to disclose a deleted DUI conviction record to employers, the same doesn’t apply when talking of state licenses. It is compulsory for you to disclose your conviction, be it a DUI or wet reckless if you hold a state license.

Professionals that are charged with DUI should consult with a knowledgeable DUI attorney before they accept any plea deal or interact with their respective licensing boards.

No compulsory ignition interlock device (IID) installation

In California, it is mandatory that you install an IID if convicted of a repeat DUI offense. On the other hand, if convicted of a wet reckless, installing the device will be at the discretion of the court. Though, in case the DMV revokes your driver’s license separately from the court’s suspension, installing an IID might be a requirement for you to continue driving.

Disadvantages of a Wet Reckless Conviction

As much as a wet reckless charge has several advantages, it still has its downsides. There are certain areas where the wet reckless charge would still be treated as DUI.  They include the following.

The DMV can still suspend your driver’s license

It is an advantage because being convicted of a wet reckless prevents the criminal court from imposing the mandatory license suspension as a penalty. However, the California Department of Motor Vehicle will administratively revoke your license after you are arrested for DUI.

You can prevent this from happening by requesting a DMV administrative hearing within ten days of your arrest, which you must win. Normally, the hearing usually takes place before your DUI case in the criminal court is settled, which means the license could still be revoked regardless of the court’s outcome. However, it can be possible for the DMV to delay the hearing, which will give your attorney and the prosecutor more time to work out a plea deal.

Even though the DMV isn’t legally bound by the wet reckless plea deal, the deal might help persuade the hearing officer to be quite lenient.

A wet reckless will still count as a past conviction in any subsequent drunk driving case

As we mentioned earlier, California considers wet reckless a priorable offense. This implies that if you are charged with DUI within ten years of a wet reckless conviction, the wet reckless conviction will be counted as a past DUI offense. Thus, you will be convicted as a repeat offender and face enhanced penalties.

It still affects your insurance

Your car insurance provider will most likely treat a wet reckless conviction like a DUI. If this happens, it means the plea deal will not help you to save on your car insurance, which may lead to increased premiums. In certain cases, a person can be denied insurance coverage under their current policy.

The charge adds two points of a negligent operator to your DMV record

For two points to be added on your DMV record is still a plus and increases the chances of your license being. Even though the points are less compared to a DUI, the wet reckless conviction plus a subsequent DUI conviction within ten years may place you over the limit of a negligent operator, which in turn triggers a license suspension.

Potential employers can still discover it and eventually ask about it

A wet reckless conviction record will still be visible on background checks. This means your employer or potential employers can see it. This may hurt your chances of getting employed, especially if you are applying for a conditional job. The employer may inquire about it, and if it is serious, you would most likely lose the position.

The charge will stay on your DMV record for ten years

Even though it is a reduced charge, the DMV will still consider you a DUI offender for ten years. This means if you are convicted of a subsequent DUI, the DMV hearing officer may still refer to your past conviction record when determining whether or not to suspend your driver’s license.

The bottom line is, a wet reckless won’t get rid of the many stiff requirements that come with a DUI conviction. However, there are many reasons why it is still preferable to a DUI.

The Distinction between Wet Reckless and Dry Reckless

What mainly differentiates dry reckless from wet reckless is whether or not one’s criminal record will show that drugs and alcohol were involved during the commission of the offense. As opposed to dry reckless, a wet reckless conviction record will show the notation.

Dry reckless is another term for an ordinary reckless driving conviction under VC 23103. It is a reduced charge which results from a drunk driving plea deal, but it doesn’t necessarily show that the offender was reckless in his or her driving.

The reason this distinction matter is because a wet reckless conviction is a priorable offense while a dry reckless conviction is not.

Factors that Lead to the Likelihood of a Wet Reckless Plea Deal Offer

When charged with DUI, a prosecutor may reduce your charges to wet reckless depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. He or she will most likely reduce the charges if:

  1. Your BAC was below or close to .08%

  2. His/her case has various weaknesses, and the chances of him or her losing at trial are high.

  3. You don’t have a notable history of alcohol, drugs, or both-related offenses.

  4. Your driving record is clean.

  5. You cooperated during the DUI investigation.

  6. You didn’t show signs of serious intoxication

  7. Nobody got injured due to your DUI action

In case you have had a previous DUI conviction, the chances of getting a wet reckless plea deal are slim even if the factors mentioned above are present. The prosecution can only offer you this kind of deal if your defense is very strong.

Factors like political pressure could also prevent the prosecuting attorney from granting repeat offenders this deal. However, weaknesses in his/her case like procedural mistakes during arrest and investigation and unique mitigating factors may override the pressure.

Note that a prosecutor will not grant a wet reckless plea bargain in every drunk driving case. It's a benefit you will get as a result of strong proof that favors you and your attorney's good bargaining skills.

Find an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney Near Me

A DUI conviction is, by far, not the best experience one would wish to have. Its penalties are severe and damaging to one's reputation. The good news is, if your chances of winning are slim, your attorney may be able to bargain for a plea deal on your behalf so that instead of a DUI conviction, you are convicted of a wet reckless, which has lenient penalties.

Remember a wet reckless plea deal doesn't come easily. You have to bargain for it effectively to get it. Attorneys at the San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm may be able to help you out. Since we have experience dealing with most prosecutors in the area and know how they operate, we will use our skills and experience to get the best possible outcome. Contact us at 408-777-6630 if you are seeking a reduction of your DUI charge and to learn more about the wet reckless option.