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“Wet Reckless” Lawyer in Los Angeles

You may have heard about a vehicle-related offense in California known as “wet reckless” driving. While that specific term is not used in the Vehicle Code, it is described in VC 23103.5, dealing with plea bargains in DUI cases. What the statute says is that if the prosecution agrees to a plea bargain in which the defendant pleads guilty to reckless driving, in substitution for an original charge under VC 23152, which is the DUI statute, the prosecutor must state, on the record, if the defendant had consumed alcohol or drugs in connection with the driving offense.

Benefits of Wet Reckless vs. DUI

When you consider some of the ramifications of a DUI conviction, wet reckless can avoid at least a portion of the penalties associated with it. First, a wet reckless conviction is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. You will also have to complete probation (1 to 2 years), including attendance at and completion of an alcohol/drug substance abuse program. However, the potential maximum jail time is half what it would be had there been a conviction for a first offense drunk driving or drugged driving. Finally, while the record of your conviction for wet reckless will reflect that there was alcohol or drugs involved in your case, it will not show a conviction for driving under the influence, and that could be helpful to you, for example, if applying for a job. Other benefits of a wet reckless are:

  • As a repeat DUI offender, you will be mandated to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car. With a wet reckless, the installation of an IID is discretionary with the court.
  • Mandatory enhancements for purposes of sentencing on a DUI conviction do not apply to wet reckless.
  • Lower Fines. The fines imposed are lower with wet reckless.
  • License Suspension. The suspension of your license is not mandatory for a wet reckless conviction. Even if your license is suspended, the length of the suspension will be shorter.

Clearly, you want to hire a DUI defense lawyer who understands not only the benefits of wet reckless, but also what steps to take in order to convince the prosecutor that the plea bargain is appropriate.

Circumstances Favoring a DUI Plea Bargain

There are circumstances that can increase your chances of a wet reckless plea bargain, some of which you have control over. The first involves how you conduct yourself at the traffic stop. Is the officer going to tell the prosecutor that you were polite and cooperative, or that you were belligerent, used foul language, etc. Others are your alcohol and/or drug history, if any; the fact that you were under or just slightly above the legal limit of 0.08%; and the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case. Those weaknesses could involve a number of issues, including:

  • Improper administration or interpretation of field sobriety tests (FST).
  • An arresting officer who is inexperienced with DUI cases.
  • Medical conditions that affected your FST performance.
  • Medical conditions that affected your blood alcohol reading.
  • The testing (of blood or breath) was not properly performed.

Regarding the testing issue listed above, breath tests, for example, are strictly governed by Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations. Section 1221.2 contains specific procedures for testing breath alcohol. Those requirements include, among other things:

  • Analysis of not less than two breath samples.
  • The “breathalyzer” must be checked periodically (usually at least every 10 days) for accuracy.
  • The officers must be trained in a variety of subjects, including breath alcohol analysis, the 15-minute wait period, and detailed procedures for operating breath testing equipment.

Where the procedures have been violated, this may lead to a decision to move for a dismissal and/or take the case to trial and obtain a not guilty verdict.

“Wet Reckless” Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles

Interestingly, there is no such thing as an initial wet reckless charge. The plea bargain that gives rise to wet reckless is a creature of a statute in the California Vehicle Code that allows certain people to plead guilty to a downgraded charge, be exposed to reduced penalties, and avoid having a DUI on their record.

If you have been charged with DUI, contact Chris Bou Saeed at CBS Law in Los Angeles. Chris is an experienced DUI attorney, and you can count on him to take your case in the right direction. Call for a free consultation. Call CBS Law at (213) 800-8005

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