What Is A “Wet Reckless” and How Are they Handled in San Luis Obispo?
Each time someone is charged with a DUI, their attorney should attempt to engage the prosecuting district attorney assigned to the case in a process of plea bargaining. This is the process through which an attorney tries to get the district attorney to reduce some aspect of the charges or the sentence, in exchange for a voluntuary plea of guilty or no contest. In San Luis Obispo DUI cases the most common charge that my be used as a substitute for a DUI charge is a charge of reckless driving. When a reckless driving charge is substituted for a DUI charge in a case where the DUI involved alcohol, this reckless driving charge is often referred to as a “wet reckless”.
A “wet reckless” charge is a charge of reckless driving, with some special characteristics. One of these special characteristics is that a wet reckless will be treated as a prior DUI for purposes of sentencing on a subsequent DUI conviction within 10 years. For example, a wet reckless conviction in 2010 would make a DUI in 2013 a “second DUI” for purposes of sentencing, even though the 2010 guilty plea was to a charge of reckless driving, not DUI.
Benefits of a Wet Reckless
Despite the fact that a wet reckless conviction is priorable like a DUI charge, it has some benefits over a DUI. First, a wet reckless does not carry an automatic license suspension like vehicle code section 23152(b) does. So, if you win your DMV hearing and you get a wet reckless conviction, you will avoid a license suspension. Second, DUI convictions carry mandatory minimum penalties under the California Vehicle Code. You can avoid these minimum sentences with a wet reckless which unties the district attorney’s hands to offer a plea bargain with less jail time. Third, wet reckless charges often come with a shorter alcohol class requirement than a DUI. Fourth, the fines are often lower with a wet reckless conviction.
Of course, the terms of a plea bargain are negotiable, and some district attorneys will run a tough bargain and demand that all the other terms of the plea bargain mirror the terms of a DUI, except of the charge you plead guilty to. In that case, a wet reckless is still better than a DUI in terms of the blemish on your record as A reckless driving conviction looks better on a record than a DUI does.
What Determines Whether you Can Get a Wet Reckless?
A wet reckless is a charge a District Attorney may offer in lieu of a DUI charge when they feel their case is weak. A district attorney might deem the case to be weak for any number of reasons. Typically, a wet reckless is offered when the BAC is low. Thus, in general, the higher your BAC, the less likely you are to get a reckless driving offer from the District Attorney. However, there can be other reasons for a weak case separate from the BAC, for example a bad stop. I have had clients with high BAC’s be offered wet reckless plea bargains because of some other weakness in the prosecution’s case. The analysis of a DUI case can get very technical which underscores the importance of having an experienced DUI attorney evaluate your case.
Call for a Free Case Evaluation. (805) 621-7181
If you are being charged with a DUI in San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara County you should call us immediately. Our San Luis Obispo DUI Attorneys are happy to evaluate your case at no cost or obligation to you. We are in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara county courts daily and we have gotten wet reckless plea bargains on DUI cases that appeared very difficult at first.