Los Angeles DUI vs. Wet Reckless

In California, being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) can have serious consequences, including license suspension, hefty fines, and potential jail time. However, there’s another option that some individuals may be offered or pursue: a “wet reckless” charge. Understanding the distinctions between these two offenses is crucial for anyone facing such legal issues under California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5 VC.

What is a “Wet Reckless” Charge?

A “wet reckless” charge is essentially a reduced form of a DUI charge. It signifies that the driver was operating a vehicle recklessly but with alcohol or drugs in their system, albeit below the legal limit for DUI. This charge is often reached through plea bargaining, where the prosecution agrees to reduce the DUI charge to a wet reckless based on various factors such as the strength of evidence and the defendant’s cooperation.

Differences Between Wet Reckless and DUI

The differences between a wet reckless charge and a DUI charge are significant and can impact various aspects of a person’s life:

Legal Consequences: A wet reckless charge generally carries lighter penalties compared to a DUI conviction. This includes lower fines and reduced maximum jail time. A first time DUI has a maximum jail sentence of six months in jail. A wet reckless carries a maximum of ninety days. A wet reckless typically has a 12 month probationary period whereas a first offense DUI has a three year probation period.

Employment/Licensing Agencies: While both offenses can affect one’s employment prospects and professional licenses, a wet reckless charge may be viewed more favorably than a DUI by some employers and licensing agencies.

Driver’s License Suspension: DUI convictions trigger an automatic driver’s license suspension, whereas individuals convicted of wet reckless typically do not face this immediate consequence.

Ignition Interlock Device (IID): DUI convictions often require the installation of an IID in the offender’s vehicle, whereas this is not a requirement for those with a wet reckless charge.

Points to License & Insurance Rates: However, a wet reckless conviction will add two points to the defendant’s driving record, which typically results in increased insurance rates.

Wet Reckless Counts as a Prior DUI Offense

It’s important to note that a wet reckless conviction still counts as a prior DUI offense in California, unlike a dry reckless charge. This means that if an individual is charged with DUI in the future, having a prior wet reckless conviction can lead to enhanced penalties and consequences.

Under California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5 VC, the law in California is structured to consider a wet reckless as a prior DUI offense for a period of ten years from the date of the wet reckless arrest. During this period, if the individual is convicted of DUI again, the court will treat the new offense as a second DUI rather than a first, resulting in much harsher penalties and county jail time.

These enhanced penalties for a second DUI offense can include increased fines, longer license suspension periods, mandatory completion of alcohol education programs, and potential mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in the vehicle.

Contacting a DUI Lawyer in Los Angeles

If you or someone you know is facing DUI or wet reckless charges in Los Angeles or surrounding areas, it’s crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced DUI attorney. The Law Offices of Hart J. Levin has over 100 years of combined experience in DUI defense and can provide the guidance and advocacy needed to navigate these complex legal matters such as a wet reckless charge. Don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation and take the first step toward protecting your rights and securing the best possible outcome for your case.

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