What is Wet Reckless

While many people are familiar with DUI charges and what they mean, fewer understand the lesser charge of a wet reckless driving offense. If you or a loved one is accused of driving under the influence in Orange County, California, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible to learn about the legal options available to you—which may include a wet reckless charge. 

What is a DUI?

If an officer suspects you have been operating any sort of motor vehicle on a road while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be charged with a DUI. Although every state in the nation has laws punishing those who drive under the influence, there are important, state-specific intricacies the average person may not know about until it is too late. 

For example, driving under the influence and having a blood alcohol content at or above 0.08% are both facets of a DUI definition, but California considers each facet its own charge. This means you can be convicted of two crimes for the same incident. Although you can only be punished once, you can end up with two (2) misdemeanor convictions on your record as a result of California’s DUI charging scheme. 

Because driving under the influence can lead to deadly accidents, those suspected of it are often treated harshly or unfairly before any sort of trial has taken place. The consequences are especially severe in Orange County, California and you could face a DUI prosecution even if you are found to be under the influence in a vehicle that is not moving. 

The penalties for a DUI vary depending on how many prior offenses your record shows, if an accident was involved, if anyone other than yourself was injured or killed where your driving was the proximate cause to the injury or death, and how much alcohol was in your system at the time of driving. Even the most “minor” DUI charges can lead to heavy fines, time behind bars, and a loss of driving privileges. This is one of the many reasons why those facing DUI charges of any sort should call a qualified California DUI attorney immediately. 

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Understanding a wet reckless charge

Wet reckless (often wrongfully referred to as wet and reckless) charges are related to DUI charges because they are, essentially, a lesser version offered by the prosecution as a plea bargain in certain cases. Such an offer means that instead of facing a DUI conviction and its heavy consequences, you face a charge for something like reckless driving. The term “wet” is an informal way of acknowledging that driving under the influence of alcohol took place. 

While your defense attorney may help you seek a wet reckless plea bargain, only the prosecutor may offer it, and they only do so in cases of a relatively low blood alcohol content and/or their potential inability to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. If a wet reckless offer is made and accepted, pleading to a wet reckless does involve admitting some level of guilt. Your attorney can help ensure this is the most appropriate legal path to take, and they can also reveal other options that may better suit your situation.  

Wet reckless versus DUI

You may wonder what the point of a wet reckless plea bargain is since you still end up charged with a crime, especially if you are only facing your first DUI. You may think it makes no difference, aside from avoiding a DUI on your record. Contacting an experienced DUI attorney can help deepen your understanding about the true differences between the charges and why they matter to you. 

Basically, a wet reckless charge is a lesser charge than a DUI, which means you would face lesser penalties, lower fines, less time behind bars (if any at all), and a greater chance of retaining as many driving privileges as possible. Indeed, it also means your record will not include a DUI  conviction which is more impactful than one may think. 

DUI convictions carry a heavy stigma with them that can affect everything from your car insurance rates to your ability to get a job, buy a car, or even purchase a home. Criminal records are public, so your background may be researched and those who see the DUI conviction may be  unlikely to listen to your side of the story. 

Although a wet reckless is not a DUI,  it is also not a dismissal and comes with consequences. Even a first time DUI offense can lead to serious penalties. If getting the charges entirely dropped is not an option, vying for a wet reckless may be the best option available.

Pros and cons of a wet reckless charge in Orange County, California

Like any negotiated plea agreement for a crime aside from getting all charges dismissed, a wet reckless carries its own pros and cons. It is important to consider any plea bargain carefully and with the knowledgeable guidance of a legal professional before accepting or denying that plea bargain. 

When it comes to a wet reckless charges, the pros include:

  • Lesser fines and jail time than a DUI
  • A greater chance of avoiding a license suspension 
  • A shorter license suspension
  • Avoiding serious DUI consequences, both legally and collaterally 
  • Getting around requirements for an ignition interlock device required by DMV

Meanwhile, important cons to keep in mind are:

  • A wet reckless conviction is priorable.  Meaning, that if you are arrested of a subsequent DUI within the statutory period, the latter DUI will be charged as a second DUI. 
  • You must admit some level of guilt by pleading guilty which removes the option for acquittal by trial
  • You will still have a criminal record 
  • Wet reckless charges can still include relatively serious consequences 

If you are in Orange County, California, you can call the experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian for more in-depth explorations of your options. 

Penalties and consequences of a wet reckless

A wet reckless charge is a misdemeanor in California but you can still face expensive and life-altering penalties upon conviction. If a plea bargain is accepted, this means there is no option to be found innocent of this charge at trial. Since you are pleading guilty, you face consequences that are negotiated and deemed appropriate for the crime. Aside from court fees, you could still be responsible for hefty fines, 90 days in the county jail, possible suspension of your driving privileges by the DMV (depending on your BAC), collateral penalties outside of the law, and more. You may also still be ordered to attend some form of alcohol driving school. 

When are plea bargains typically offered in DUI cases in California? 

While you and your criminal defense attorney may actively seek out a plea bargain, the prosecution may also offer them unprompted. In cases of wet reckless charges, prosecutors typically offer them in only minor DUI arrests. However, there are other plea bargains meant to help someone avoid conviction entirely by going to rehabilitation, and others simply meant to reduce penalties rather than the charges themselves. Whether a plea bargain is a good idea depends on the specifics of your situation and is something to discuss at length with a skilled attorney who is knowledgeable in the area. 

Facing a DUI in Orange County, California?

If you have been arrested for suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, hiring a legal defense team you can trust is essential. Such an arrest can be a terrifying experience, especially since being innocent of a crime does not mean you are safe from conviction for it. 

You have rights. Aside from your right to remain silent, your right to an attorney is the most important right to exercise, no matter the situation. 

The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian will fight on behalf of our Orange County, California clients with thorough investigation, tireless representation, and creative defenses tailored specifically to your case. Contact us today at 855-918-4253 for a confidential consultation about your case and learn what we can do for you. 

We have offices in Santa Ana, Westminster, Newport Beach and Fullerton to serve clients with matters heard at the Central, West, Harbor, and North Justice Centers, respectively, for all of Orange County.  The lawyers at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian are here to help!  Book an online consultation to get started today.