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California Vehicle Code 23103.5 Wet Reckless

California Vehicle Code Section 23103.5 VC is known as a “wet reckless.” A wet reckless offense may be confusing because you cannot be directly charged with a wet reckless. Instead, it is a plea bargain option, generally for individuals charged with certain DUI offenses. 

A wet reckless has reduced penalties when compared to driving under the influence (DUI) charges. A wet reckless may be a preferred option if you are facing a DUI. However, if there is a chance of challenging the DUI directly, you may be able to avoid any criminal conviction, loss of license, or mark on your criminal record.

If you were arrested for a DUI but the prosecutor offers a plea bargain, you can contact your local East Bay DUI defense lawyer for help. 

Vehicle Code 23103.5 VC Text 

Under California Vehicle Code Section 23103.5

“If the prosecution agrees to a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a charge of a [reckless driving] in satisfaction of, or as a substitute for, an original charge of a violation of [DUI], the prosecution shall state for the record a factual basis for the satisfaction or substitution, including whether or not there had been consumption of an alcoholic beverage or ingestion or administration of a drug, or both, by the defendant in connection with the offense.”

Basically, this means that the prosecutor and defendant can come to an agreement that the defendant will admit guilt to a reckless driving charge instead of facing the more serious charges of a DUI. However, it will be on the record that the driver had consumed alcohol or drugs. 

As a practical matter, this means that if the driver is later arrested for another DUI, it could be charged as a 2nd DUI even if the prior conviction was for reckless driving involving alcohol. 

Elements of the Offense

A wet reckless is a plea bargain option. A plea bargain is a type of arrangement between the defendant and the prosecutor where the defendant pleads guilty or no contest to charges under certain conditions. The defendant will agree to plead guilty to certain charges and waive their right to a trial in exchange for getting a lesser penalty.

Because a wet reckless is part of a guilty plea, there are no elements to the offense. The prosecutor does not need to prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt because the driver is admitting to the charge. 

A plea bargain from a DUI down to a wet reckless can be a good option for many drivers. If the prosecution has a good case, your DUI lawyer may still be able to get the charges pleaded down to reduce the penalties and stigma of a DUI. Talk to your East Bay DUI lawyer about options after your arrest.

Penalties for Wet Reckless 23103.5 VC Compared to DUI

The penalties for a wet reckless charge are lower than a DUI. The primary difference is that the driver does not have to face a mandatory license suspension under a wet reckless conviction. However, the driver may still have their license administratively suspended by the DMV for the arrest but not the conviction.  The driver may also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID)based on the arrest but not the conviction.  Talk to your DUI defense lawyer about challenging a DMV administrative license suspension to keep your license after a drunk driving arrest. 

Other penalties for a wet reckless can include: 

  • Fine (lower than for a DUI), 
  • Jail (shorter than for a DUI), 
  • Probation (shorter than for a DUI), and
  • DUI school (shorter than for a DUI).

Wet Reckless is a Priorable Offense

A wet reckless may seem like a “get out of jail free” card. However, there are some important considerations before pleading guilty to a wet reckless. A wet reckless counts as a “priorable offense” for multiple DUIs. The lookback period in California is 10 years calculated from date of arrest to date of arrest. If you get arrested for a DUI within 10 years of the wet reckless arrest, you may be charged with a 2nd DUI.   

Take the Plea Deal or Fight the DUI

The most important decision to make when facing a DUI is whether to accept a plea deal or challenge the DUI. Some drivers who have a strong case to fight the criminal charges may still accept a plea deal because they do not understand their rights or the prosecutor makes it seem like they have no other choice. 

There are many defenses available to individuals facing a DUI charge. Defendants can challenge chemical breath or blood test evidence, challenge the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, and even challenge the basis for making a traffic stop. Talk to your East Bay DUI defense lawyer about your options and whether or not the wet reckless really is the best option. 

DUI and Wet Reckless Defense Lawyer 

East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 35 years of DUI experience, and understands the consequences of a DUI for California drivers. If you are thinking about whether to fight the DUI or take a wet reckless, contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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