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Understanding California’s “Wet Reckless” Plea

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California is one of many states that allow a driver who has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) to plead to a lesser charge. One of those lesser charges is “wet reckless” (reckless driving involving alcohol).

Understanding what this charge means and how it works is useful when you’ve been in a crash with a driver previously charged with wet reckless. The existence of this plea on a driver’s record can be meaningful to your own car accident case and settlement.

Why Does Wet Reckless Exist?

Some states don’t allow a DUI charge to be pled down, even on a first offense with no harm caused. California law instead takes the approach that in some situations a compromise works for everyone. In this case, the prosecution can benefit by getting a plea to a lesser charge. They might be concerned that their evidence might not hold up in court, often because the defendant’s blood alcohol level was right around the legal limit.

The defendant who takes the plea admits guilt to an infraction but avoids the more serious DUI charge, which carries fines, license restrictions, jail time, probation, and other potential penalties.

Wet Reckless Restrictions

Being able to make a wet reckless plea is far from automatic and there are important conditions involved—no property damage or injury can have been caused, for one—but it allows a first offender to avoid the more serious DUI charge. While it keeps a DUI charge off the guilty party’s record, the court can place the defendant on probation and require him or her to enroll in an alcohol and drug education program.

Most importantly, the charge and plea stay on the defendant’s record, and if they have an additional DUI offense within ten years, the wet reckless will be converted to a DUI charge, causing the new offense to count as a second DUI with additional penalties.

The rules will be tightening soon, too: Beginning in 2019, the courts will have the option of requiring those convicted of wet reckless to use ignition interlock devices while on probation.

Why Does All This Matter?

If you’ve been the victim of a crash caused by another driver, it’s important to know if the driver has previous convictions—including a wet reckless charge—in their past. The record of offenses, their circumstances, and any previous harm caused by a driver can be important factors in a case; they can affect whether a case goes to trial or is settled, as well as what settlement is reached.

Orange County Car Accident Lawyer

After a car crash has left you injured or with property damage that needs to be repaired, contact the team at Dickson Kohan & Bablove, LLP. Our experienced automobile accident attorneys know how to approach all kinds of motor vehicle accident cases, regardless of the circumstances, and we’ve helped hundreds of clients recover their medical expenses, lost income, and many other costs that they face after a crash.

We offer each client a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss his or her specific case, so you have nothing to lose. Call us today at 1-844-404-2400 or contact us online through the form below to learn more.

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