CA VC 23103.5
Wet Reckless Charge
In California, wet reckless, CA Vehicle Code 23103.5, means that you were involved in an alcohol related driving offense. It is commonly used as a plea bargain by the prosecutor in place of the more serious charge of a DUI, CA Vehicle Code 23152.
It’s important to note that there is not a mandatory jail sentence for a wet reckless but there are still substantial fines, insurance rate increases and other drawbacks to plea bargaining with a wet reckless. The people who benefit the most from being charged with a wet reckless are those who have multiple DUIs within the 10-year look back period.
Wet Reckless Benefits
A DUI in California is a priorable offense, meaning each time you are convicted of DUI the punishment has to increase. For example, the second time you are arrested for a DUI you will face a minimum of 96 hours in jail, the third time you will face a minimum of 120 days in jail. However, if you accept the prosecutors plea bargain for a wet reckless then you might get out of the mandatory jail sentence because a wet reckless arrest does not entail mandatory jail time.
If you accept the plea bargain then you will face:
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- DUI completion course
This looks a lot better then the punishments for a first offense DUI:
- Up to 5 years of informal probation
- Up to 6 months in county jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Up to 9 months of alcohol education
- Up to 10 months of having your drivers license suspended
Another benefit of accepting the plea bargain is that there is not a mandatory drivers license suspension for a wet reckless conviction. Because of the fact that a DUI is a priorable offense the length of suspension placed on your drivers license increases with every conviction. For example, for a first time DUI offense the DMV will suspend your license for six months; a second offense, two years; and a third offense, three years.
However, in order to successfully avoid a driver’s license suspension you will need to be successful at (1) accepting the plea bargain in court, and (2) at your DMV DUI Hearing. The DMV Hearing pertains to if/how long you will lose your driving privileges, not if you are guilty of the offense.
Another benefit, however small, is that the alcohol course required for a wet reckless conviction can be as short as six weeks, where as a DUI conviction requires an alcohol course to be as long as three months.
Wet Reckless Drawbacks
The benefits of a wet reckless are clear and numerous, however, there are still some drawbacks to accepting the lesser charge. Namely, if you get convicted of a DUI within the ten year look-back period then you will subjugated to harsher punishments. This means that you will be treated as a repeat offender and the wet reckless will be treated as a DUI.
Accepting a wet reckless does not ensure that you will not lose your drivers license. If you either lose your DMV Hearing or if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.08% or greater then you will have your driver’s license suspended.
Also, your insurance company might treat a wet reckless conviction the same way they would treat a DUI conviction. This means that your insurance company has the right to raise your premium significantly or drop you from the company altogether.
How Do You Accept a Wet Reckless?
Not all cases are eligible for a wet reckless plea bargain. The prosecutor is likely to reduce your DUI charge to a wet reckless if your BAC is close to the legal limit of 0.08%, if the prosecutor thinks he/she will likely lose in court, and when the prosecutor wants to convict you of something rather than having the charges dropped altogether in court.
It’s important to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney to handle these cases because your attorney will be the one to point out the shortcomings of the prosecutor’s case and argue on your behalf that a wet reckless is a better option for all parties involved. A wet reckless will also be an option for persons with a clean driving record and with little criminal history.
If you are facing your first or subsequent DUI charge then it’s imperative that you talk to a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately. Seppi Esfandi is a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and has practice representing criminals for a plethora of crimes, including DUIs. Seppi Esfandi is also very successful during early intervention where he points out the flaws in the prosecutors case and will often have cases dropped before going to trial or have his clients charges reduced.
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