California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5 VC: Wet Reckless

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

wet reckless

In many circumstances, prosecutors may offer and allow defendants charged with Los Angeles DUI offenses to plea to a reduced DUI charge. The most common reduced charge offered by prosecutors is what is commonly referred to as "wet reckless" pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 23103 VC per California Vehicle Code Section 23103.5 VC.

Wet reckless is unique in that it only exists as a plea reduction in driving under the influence cases. This means that a person cannot be arrested and charged with wet reckless independently, but can only plea to this offense as a charge reduction if agreed to by the prosecutor handling the case. Prosecutors prefer the "wet reckless" charge to other reduced charges such as simple reckless driving ("dry reckless") or exhibition of speed because a wet reckless is considered a priorable offense. This means that even though the defendant is not being convicted of a DUI-offense, the wet reckless would be treated the same as a DUI conviction if the defendant is ever charged with a future DUI offense.

There are various reasons why a prosecutor may consider offering a wet reckless plea to a defendant charged with driving under the influence in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC or driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) VC. The following factors are often cited as justification for a reduced wet reckless charge:

  1. A blood alcohol content at or close to 0.08 percent.
  2. Evidence of a rising blood alcohol level.
  3. Minimal "bad" driving conduct.
  4. Questionable storage/handling of evidence (i.e. taking an insufficiently small blood sample or waiting for a lengthy period of time to conduct breath or blood testing)
  5. Issues with the stop/probable cause

In these instances, a prosecutor may be willing to reduce LA DUI charges to avoid taking a potentially risky case to trial. In the same vein, a defendant may wish to plea to the reduced charges in order to avoid the penalties, collateral consequences and stigma that a DUI conviction carries.

2. Related Offenses

Similar offenses include the following:

  1. Reckless Driving / Dry Reckless - California Vehicle Code Section 23103 VC
  2. Exhibition of Speed - California Vehicle Code Section 23109(c) VC
  3. Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs - California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC
  4. Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08 Percent or Higher - California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) VC

3. Examples

A woman is charged with DUI in Los Angeles after being stopped for failing to use her turn signals. The woman provides a breath sample on a PAS device that shows her BAC to be 0.08 percent. She is arrested and transported to the police station, where she provides a breath sample on a breathalyzer that shows a BAC of 0.10. The woman is initially charged with driving under the influence of alcohol pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC and California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) VC. The prosecutor reviews the facts of the case and decides to offer a wet reckless pursuant to California Vehicle Code 23103/23103.5 VC due to the minimal driving conduct and the apparent rising blood alcohol.

4. Wet Reckless as a Reduced Charge

There are many circumstances in which an effective Los Angeles DUI Attorney can help convince a prosecutor to reduce a driving under the influence charge to a wet reckless. As mentioned above, BACs that are around 0.08 percent, the lack of "bad" driving conduct, or procedural/evidentiary flaws are often reasons that are used to justify a plea reduction. In these cases, an effective LA DUI Attorney can help convince a prosecutor why the plea reduction would be appropriate.

5. Penalties

Wet reckless under California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5 VC is a misdemeanor level offense that is not considered a DUI conviction. As such, it is not subject to the mandatory jail sentences that certain DUI offenses require. If someone is convicted of wet reckless, that conviction will be treated as a prior DUI if there is a DUI conviction in the subsequent ten years. Terms of probation for a wet reckless typically involve either the 12-hour or three-month alcohol class, court fines, and usual DUI conditions such as maintaining a valid driver's license and insurance and not driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in one's system. One key difference between wet reckless and DUI convictions is that a wet reckless conviction will not trigger an automatic DMV driver's license suspension.

6. Criminal Defense for Los Angeles DUI

If you have been charged with a driving under the influence offense in Los Angeles, it is very important that you consult with a skilled Los Angeles DUI Attorney as soon as possible. The early involvement of a LA DUI Attorney can help in eventually getting a reduced DUI charge. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles DUI Attorney Michael Kraut knows how to effectively present a case to prosecutors, judges and juries and has had tremendous success in getting his clients' DUI charges significantly reduced and even dismissed.

For more information about Los Angeles wet reckless, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles DUI Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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