Affiliate Disclosure

Content on Jalopnik Advisor is commercial in nature and independent of Jalopnik Editorial and Advertising. Jalopnik Advisor content is free to consumers and always will be, however we and our partners may be compensated if you purchase a product or service through the links on this website.

A “wet and reckless” driving charge is not the same as a DUI charge–in fact, it isn’t even considered a lesser form of DUI and is in a completely different category of driving offenses. For starters, you can’t actually be arrested for this type of charge; instead, it only occurs as the result of a bargained plea agreement involving you and your defense attorney, the local prosecutor, and the court.

Arrested for a DUI?

Let a DUI lawyer stop the suspension of your driver’s license.

How Does A Wet And Reckless Charge Occur?

While some states do not allow plea bargains or reductions for DUI charges, a few states will allow a DUI charge to be reduced to a lesser vehicular offense if your case meets certain criteria. Generally, when discussing the possibility of reducing your DUI, there are two things that make it more likely that the prosecutor and the court would consider a plea bargain:

  1. Your BAC was under, or very close to the 0.08 percent legal limit
  2. You don’t have a weighty history of alcohol and or drug related offenses

Often when these two factors are coupled with weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case against you, you’re in a good spot to negotiate the reduction of your DUI charge.

Here’s an example of how this might work:

When Jessica was pulled over for her DUI, she was cooperative with the investigation process and blew a BAC of just 0.09 percent. Jessica does have a few prior traffic violations, but nothing drug or alcohol related on her criminal record. However, the breathalyzer hadn’t been properly calibrated, which might cause the prosecutor’s case against Jessica to crumble at trial. So, the prosecutor agrees to reduce her DUI to avoid going to trial and risking a complete loss of the case.

Why Would You Want A Wet And Reckless Vs. DUI?

Generally, if your DUI is reduced to the lesser charge, you can expect less jail time, smaller fines, and fewer court mandated driving restrictions. Below are some of the differences between the two charges using California’s laws and court procedures as an example:

Wet And Reckless In California Driving Under The Influence In California
No DUI on your driving record (only a notation that drugs or alcohol were involved) DUI recorded on driving record
Fines can be up to $1,000 Fines can be up to $3,000
DUI school is only 6 weeks DUI school is a minimum of 3 months
No mandatory California ‘ignition interlock device‘ installation Court will usually require ignition interlock device installation
No mandatory court-ordered license suspension 6-month mandatory license suspension
Probation period is only 1–2 years Probation period is 3–5 years
90-day maximum jail time 6-month maximum jail time

Ultimate Consequences Of A Reduced DUI Charge

Overall, yes, there is a major benefit to keeping a DUI off of your driving record and a reduced charge may end up costing you less time and money. But it is still considered a “priorable” offense. This means if you are convicted of a DUI within the next 10 years, you will be treated the same as if the reduction of your first DUI never happened, and you will be considered a repeat offender resulting in increased penalties and fines.

Remember Jessica from the example above? Let’s use her case again:

In an ideal world, when the prosecutor offers Jessica a plea agreement of the lesser charge in place of her DUI charge, she accepts the plea, and the court agrees [commence celebration!]. Jessica pays the appropriate fines, goes to DUI school, serves little to no jail time, and gets back on the road. She never gets another DUI again, and all is good.

But what if she gets another DUI nine and a half years later? Then, she goes back to court and will have to face the consequences of a second DUI offense. This means higher fines, longer jail time, more court required school, and loss of her driver’s license.

The immediate consequences of a DUI arrest might still occur, however, such as license suspension. For example, in California you might need to request a hearing with the DMV to get your license back if it was confiscated by the officer at the time of your DUI arrest.

Can You Reduce Your DUI Charge?

While having to find a DUI attorney to represent you in court may seem like a drag, if you want to limit the impact of the charge, an attorney’s help might be one of the only ways to get you back on the road. With the help of an experienced DUI attorney you may be able to reduce a DUI charge to a wet and reckless, depending on your case details and the jurisdiction where the offense occurred.

Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information, but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Want to read more about how DUI laws might impact you? Learn More from our Jalopnik Legal Team:

Arrested for a DUI?

Let a DUI lawyer stop the suspension of your driver’s license.

Get a Free Evaluation