Reckless Driving – Wet Reckless vs. Dry Reckless

Reckless Driving Wet Reckless vs. Dry Reckless California Vehicle Code Section 23103

If you are charged with a DUI, in some cases your lawyer may be able to have the DUI charge reduced to a reckless driving charge. It is important to know that there are two different types of reckless driving charges related to a DUI prosecution. These are referred to as either a “wet reckless driving” or a “dry reckless driving.”

Wet Reckless Driving

Under California Vehicle Code 23103.5, a wet reckless can occur as part of a plea bargain from an original drunk driving charge. A wet reckless implies that alcohol was involved during your reckless driving. It cannot be originally charged. It can only be given through a plea bargain with the prosecution. It cannot be imposed by the court.

The penalties for a wet reckless can be jail time, fines, loss of driving privileges, and enrollment in alcohol educational programs. However, a wet reckless conviction has lighter penalties compared to a DUI. For example, the loss of your driving privileges is not mandatory, your attendance of a DUI class is for a shorter period of time, you will have a shorter probationary period, and the fines assessed will be less than the fine assessed for a DUI. In addition, you will not have to fill out a SR-22 form to show proof of insurance before you get your driver’s license back. It may also be beneficial to some professions that require the reporting of DUI convictions.

It is a reduced charge with lighter penalties, but it is still considered as a functional equivalent to a DUI conviction. What this means is that if you get a subsequent DUI within 10 years, the wet reckless can be considered a prior conviction to increase your punishment as if you had plead guilty to a DUI. This means that if you have one wet reckless conviction, the next DUI conviction you get will be considered as your second DUI. A second DUI has increased penalties. Another downside to a wet reckless conviction is that your insurance company will also consider a “wet reckless” as a DUI for insurance purposes. The cost of auto insurance will most likely increase. See California Vehicle Code Section 23103.5.

Dry Reckless Driving

A dry reckless refers to reckless driving without any alcohol involved. This is a misdemeanor reckless driving under California Vehicle Code Section 23103. In some DUI cases, your skilled DUI defense lawyer may be able to convince the prosecution to reduce the charge to a dry reckless. With a conviction for a dry reckless, you face the possibility of jail time, fines and probation. However, the beneficial element of this charge is that it is not “priorable.” If this charge is given, it will not be treated as a DUI if you are arrested in the future for a subsequent DUI.

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