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What's the Difference Between a DUI and a “Wet Reckless” in California?

Posted by Michael Geller | Jan 01, 2023 | 0 Comments

Many people are surprised to discover the different types of charges that can be filed when pulled over for alleged drunk driving. A prime example is the distinction between being charged with a DUI (i.e., driving under the influence) and being charged with a “wet reckless.” Let's discuss in more depth…

Overview of the “Wet Reckless” Charge

A “wet reckless” charge is a colloquial term used to describe a DUI charge that was reduced to a reckless driving charge in accordance with California's Vehicle Code. The charge will essentially be detailed in your record as a reckless driving charge with an added note that alcohol was involved. This is where the term “wet reckless” comes from.

If you were charged with a DUI in the San Francisco Bay Area, it may be worthwhile to speak with an experienced DUI lawyer to discuss whether it makes sense to pursue a reduction of the DUI charge to a “wet reckless” charge. This option carries both potential advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Getting a DUI Reduced to a Wet Reckless Charge

The advantages associated with getting a DUI charge reduced to a wet reckless charge include the following:

  • Less Jail Time – In California, even first time DUI offenders can be ordered to serve up to six months in jail. If you are a repeat DUI offender, you could be looking at serving up to an entire year, if convicted. In contrast, the maximum jail sentence for a wet reckless offense is a maximum of 90 days.
  • Reduced Fines – Getting convicted of a DUI in California often entails having to pay a fairly large fine (thousands of dollars is not out of the question). In contrast, if you are convicted of a “wet reckless” offense, the maximum fine that can be imposed is $1,000.

Disadvantages of Getting Your DUI Charge Reduced to a Wet Reckless

There are some noteworthy drawbacks associated with accepting a reduction to a wet reckless offense. For example, if you wind up getting arrested for a DUI again in the future, the wet reckless will still count as a prior DUI for the purposes of determining sentencing.

Another drawback to accepting a wet reckless offense is that the DMV will still automatically suspend your license because you were technically arrested for a DUI. In addition, your auto insurance company will likely increase your rates much the same as if you were convicted of a DUI.

Have Questions? Speak to an Experienced San Francisco DUI Lawyer Today

If you were charged with a DUI in or around the San Francisco Bay Area and want to know if you can potentially have the DUI charge reduced to a wet reckless, contact The Geller Firm today. We are ready and able to help you during this difficult time and will work tirelessly to advocate for your interests in getting the charges reduced to a wet reckless or even tossed out, depending on the unique facts of your case. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

About the Author

Michael Geller

Michael Geller grew up in San Francisco, CA. He attended the University of Southern California for his undergraduate studies, the City University of New York for his medical training, and Santa Clara University School of Law for his legal education.


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