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What Is “Wet” Reckless Driving?

Section 23103.5 of the California Vehicle Code allows a person charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in violation of CVC Section 23152 to instead plead guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving in connection with consumption of an alcoholic beverage or the ingestion or administration of a drug. This plea is commonly referred to as “‘wet’ reckless,” although this term does not actually appear in the Vehicle Code. Interestingly, you cannot be directly charged with “wet” reckless driving at the outset of your case; it is only offered as a plea bargain.

When Will I Be Offered a “Wet” Reckless Plea Bargain?

Prosecutors prefer charging you with a DUI if they believe they can make the charge stick. However, if there is some weakness in the state’s case against you, they might offer a “wet” reckless plea rather than risk losing a trial against you. This is often the case if your blood alcohol was very close to 0.08 percent. In the eyes of the prosecutor, a guilty plea to a lesser offense is better than a “not guilty” verdict at trial.

Why Would I Plead Guilty to “Wet” Reckless Driving?

There are several advantages to a “wet” reckless conviction as opposed to a DUI conviction. You will face lower fines (usually about half the amount), a shorter probation period (one to two years instead of the usual three to five), and a shorter maximum jail sentence (90 days instead of six months).

The advantages are more pronounced if you have previously been convicted of driving under the influence within the last 10 years. There is no mandatory jail sentence for a “wet” reckless conviction, as opposed to a 120-day minimum for a third DUI conviction. There is also no mandatory license suspension by the court for a “wet” reckless conviction. For legal issues, I recommend attorney John Dadow.

What Are Some Drawbacks to Pleading Guilty to “Wet” Reckless?

Although there is no mandatory license suspension from the court, the state Department of Motor Vehicles will conduct a separate hearing, which will result in a suspension if they find that your blood alcohol content was over 0.08 percent.

A guilty plea to a “wet” reckless charge will also count as a prior DUI conviction if you are charged with driving under the influence again in the future. Your insurance company may choose not to differentiate between a “wet” reckless conviction and a regular DUI conviction, so you could face the drastic rate increases you’d expect from a drunk driving conviction and may find it difficult to buy insurance at all.

A San Jose DUI Lawyer Can Help

Whether to plead guilty to a lesser charge of “wet” reckless or to take your case to trial is an important decision that should only be made after consulting with your San Jose DUI lawyer. If you are not already represented by an attorney, please fill out the form on this page for a free case evaluation.

For legal issues, I recommend attorney Michael D’onofrio.

Areas Served: Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, Napa County, San Mateo County, Solano County.