California’s Wet Reckless Laws

Drunk driving is often referred to as DUI, DWI, OUI and other such terms. DUI stands for drinking under the influence basically meaning driving or operating a vehicle under the influence of body or mind altering substances such as alcohol, drugs or prescription medication.

DUI laws are aimed at preventing drivers from driving or operating a vehicle under the influence of any substance that would render them impaired. While the law calls it drunk driving it includes all forms of intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs or prescription medication. In order for police officers to determine driver intoxication they perform a number of tests including the breathalyzer tests and blood sample tests.

With the prosecution of DUIs comes the term wet reckless; this term is used to describe a charge against a driver arrested for driving while intoxicated. The driver then pleads their case to be reduced to a reckless driving charge with the involvement of alcohol, hence the reference ‘wet’ is used. A wet reckless charge carries less obligations, punishments and costs as compared to a traditional DUI.

California’s wet reckless 
Although California prohibits plea bargains for serious criminal cases, the practice of charge bargaining exists. This statement basically means that the provision is there to get a plea bargain and it is possible for a prosecutor to agree to change a driver’s DUI offense to a wet reckless or lesser offense. The normal possible criteria that could allow a plea bargain for a wet reckless offense is as follows:

Where the driver’s BAC was at the borderline (i.e. 0.08%) or slightly below the BAC requirement. 
Where the accident caused no property damage or injury
Where it is the driver’s first offense

The advantage of having a wet reckless is that the driver has no DUI conviction on their record; therefore it is treated as though they did not commit a DUI at all and there is no jail time associated with it and the fines are lower than the fine penalty attached to a DUI first offense.

However, in the event you are convicted for a second offense in respect of a DUI within ten years and are arrested the wet reckless is treated like a prior DUI conviction and the newer arrest is handled like a second offense which is accompanied with the relevant penalties of jail time, a fine, a license suspension and or ignition interlock device (IID). Further, even if you get a wet reckless plea bargain while the court may not suspend your license it is possible that the DMV will as they will treat the offense as a DUI.

While the option of a plea bargain for wet reckless may prove to be advantageous at the time, it allows for first offenders to get a second chance at never offending again; however, if it is a quick ‘get out of jail free card’ soon offenders will be on their second offense.

If you are involved in a DUI related accident and are seeking a wet reckless plea bargain find a Riverside criminal defense lawyer.

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