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What is a 'Wet Reckless' in California?

In California, wet reckless is not a criminal charge, it’s a plea bargain used by DUI defense attorneys to help a DUI defendant avoid a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI). Law enforcement cannot arrest you for wet reckless, but the prosecution may offer it to you as an alternative to an actual DUI charge.

Obviously, the goal of any defense lawyer is to get the client's charges dismissed, but if the evidence makes this is impossible, the attorney strives to get the prosecutor to agree to a wet reckless instead of a DUI, which has many advantages.

What exactly is a plea bargain? It’s an agreement between the defense and the prosecutor were the prosecution makes a concession (such as a lesser charge or reduced sentence) in exchange for the defendant’s guilty plea.

Wet reckless driving is one of the most common plea bargains utilized in DUI cases. Other reduced charges include "dry reckless," multiple traffic infractions, and "exhibition of speed."

Is wet reckless your best option?

A wet reckless plea comes with several advantages. Unlike a typical DUI conviction, it does not involve mandatory sentencing for repeat offenders. Additionally, wet reckless usually involves a shorter jail sentence.

A first-time DUI conviction is punishable by six months in jail; the maximum sentence for wet reckless driving is 90 days. Subsequent DUIs are punishable by one year in jail (more time for a felony conviction), but the limit for wet reckless driving is the same. Similarly, fines and probation for wet reckless are generally less than DUI.

What are the disadvantages of a wet reckless?

Multiple wet reckless charges will not accumulate stronger penalties, but a wet reckless conviction is counted as a "priorable" offense if you are convicted of drunk driving in the future.

This means that if you’re convicted of DUI at a later date, your previous wet reckless allows the court to impose enhanced penalties. Additionally, a wet reckless conviction still allows the California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to suspend your license under certain circumstances.

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