the State Bar of California
the San Diego Union-Tribune
The Press-Enterprise

'Wet Reckless' Offenses

A “wet reckless” is a lesser crime than driving under the influence of alcohol and is governed by California Vehicle Code sections 23103/23103.5. In some specific situations, it may be possible to negotiate a plea bargain for a “wet reckless” as opposed to being convicted of driving under the influence. The benefits of negotiating for a “wet reckless” charge are substantial, however, it is important to note that for the future purposes, a “wet reckless” conviction will count as a prior DUI in the same way that a prior DUI conviction itself will, should you be arrested for another driving under the influence offense within ten years of the date of your first driving under the influence arrest.

In many cases, a “wet reckless” sentence will involve little to no custody time, as opposed to driving under the influence, which typically carries a custody sentence of at least six days in county jail, if not more, at least in Riverside County. The fines, fees and penalty assessments in a “wet reckless” situation run typically about half of what you can expect to pay if convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. The benefit of negotiating for a “wet reckless” disposition is a huge, cost-saving benefit to you. Additionally, the alcohol education course for a “wet reckless” offense is also substantially shorter (typically twelve hours) and far less cumbersome than the mandatory three-month or nine-month class associated with driving under the influence convictions. This also saves you money in the long run. Finally, with a “wet reckless” conviction as opposed to driving under the influence of alcohol, the court is not required to send notice to the Department of Motor Vehicles and they will not require a license suspension.

However, it is important to remember that if your blood alcohol concentration is .08% or greater, the Department of Motor Vehicles will likely still try to restrict your privilege to drive via an administrative hearing. Therefore, it is still critical that you specifically request an administrative hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days of the date of your arrest to avoid any chance of automatic suspension of your driving privileges by the Department of Motor Vehicles. When you hire the Law Office of Julie Ann Baldwin, APC, we believe that full-service legal representation includes defending you in the criminal courtroom, as well as at the administrative hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles. When you hire us, we will put our skills and experience to work for you in both forums.

In some instances, it may even be possible to negotiate for a non-alcohol related charge altogether pursuant to Vehicle Code section 23103, subdivision (a), commonly referred to as a “dry reckless” or simply “reckless driving.” In these cases, the fines are usually even less than those associated with a “wet reckless” conviction and there is the added benefit of not having to attend mandatory, alcohol-related education classes. More importantly, a simple reckless driving conviction will not count against you as a prior DUI in the future.

You need a skilled Murrieta DUI lawyer on your side who can assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case and objectively advise you with how best to proceed in your particular situation. Artful negotiation tactics are just as critical as sharp trial skills for any attorney engaged in the practice of criminal law. At the Law Office of Julie Ann Baldwin, APC, our fifteen plus years of actual courtroom and jury trial experience is what sets us apart. We understand when it makes sense to pursue settlement negotiations versus when it makes sense to take a case to jury trial. This distinction is critical in each and every case and we look forward to putting our skills and experience to work for you.

If you have already been charged or anticipate being charged with a DUI in the Murrieta area, contact your Murrieta DUI lawyer at the Law Office of Julie Ann Baldwin, APC for your free, confidential case consultation now. Your future and your freedom deserve to be taken seriously by an experienced attorney who is committed to quality representation and compassionate advocacy, every step of the way.

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