A “wet” reckless is also known as an alcohol-related reckless driving / reckless driving involving alcohol charge. It is a typical result of a 1st offense DUI plea in California, in which the defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendere to a drunk driving offense.
A wet reckless will count as a prior drunk driving offense in California, if you are arrested and charged in the subsequent 10 years. This is not true of a “dry” reckless driving.
Reference: California Vehicle Code Division 11, Chapter 12, Article 1 Section 23103.5
Penalties For “Wet” Reckless in California
If you are found guilty or plead guilty or nolo to a reckless driving involving alcohol, with no prior DUI offenses, you can expect penalties of:
- Jail time: Maximum of 90 days
- Probation: 1-2 years
- Up to 12 hours of alcohol education/substance abuse programs
Generally, this is a lesser penalty than a DUI conviction, which can result in up to 5 years of probation, and a court-mandated 6-month license suspension, in addition to any DMV administrative license suspension.
If you have a previous, 2nd offense DUI or additional prior DUI convictions, a wet reckless plea is more often a good deal. Pleading to a wet reckless can take mandatory jail time off the table in sentencing.
Consequences of a Wet Reckless
A plea to a wet reckless may still have collateral consequences, so it worth discussing those possibilities with your attorney. Such a plea may violate professional group standards or licensing guidelines for professions that have a required code of conduct.
For example, a judge in San Diego Superior court was censured by the California Commission on Judicial Performance for a plea of alcohol related, or “wet” reckless driving after a drunk driving arrest. The censure is a public admonishment of unlawful criminal conduct. Judges are required to “maintain high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary will be preserved, respect and comply with the law, and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary“.
A wet reckless is a common plea agreement in California drunk driving cases. It is not significantly different than a DUI conviction in that it is an alcohol-involved driving criminal misdemeanor charge, but the penalties are somewhat reduced, including shorter license suspensions and probation periods. And there may be other distinctions between a DUI conviction and a wet reckless where the distinction can be helpful to your job.
Considering a DUI Plea? Take Advantage of our California DUI Legal Consultation
Drunk driving laws in California are incredibly complicated. The laws are very difficult for the average person to sort through. And how they are applied in court can vary in different counties, different courts, and different judges.
In some cases, a wet reckless might be the best deal you can get. But in many situations, it makes sense to hold out for a lesser charge that won’t stick you with an alcohol related criminal driving charge, or take the case to trial and get a not guilty.
You have the right to challenge a criminal charge against you. And the police do make mistakes all the time. Any plea to a criminal charge can have serious life consequences you need to consider. It makes sense for you to make sure you’ve evaluated all of the legal defense options available to you under California criminal law, and the Constitution of the United States.
Call us today to get our take on your case. There is no obligation.