Skip to main content

Wet reckless plea bargain vs DUI: what are the benefits of wet and reckless in California?

San Francisco, CA |

If I get a lawyer to reduce my charges to wet and reckless, how different is it from DUI? Since I need a restricted license, I understand I still need 3 months school time and I will still be limited to a restricted DL for 6 months. Are the only benefits in the lower fine fees?

I am a first time DUI offender in California and I keep hearing from people if I hire a good lawyer that I can reduce my charges from DUI to wet and reckless. My BAC was .10/.11 and I was told that my lawyer could use the rising alcohol technique. There was approximately one hour and twenty minutes lapsed time when I was stopped to the time when I submitted to the breathalyzer test in the police department.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3


For a wet reckless vs DUI, in a wet reckless you do not have your license suspended or restricted and the fines and penalties are less. You will be on probation for 3 years and the Courts and insurance companies otherwise treat a wet reckless same as a DUI. In other words your rates are going way up. If you get a DUI in the next 10 years the wet reckless counts as a DUI so the next will be your second DUI. With a BAC over .10 a wet reckless is harder to negotiate but it can be down by a good lower.


The benefits of a wet reckless vs. a DUI in California (for 1st offense, non-accident) are usually:

1. Lower fines
2. Shorter or no DUI class (assuming you win the DMV), if not, then you still do the same class
3. No jail, work alternative, or community service.
4. Shorter Informal Probation (assuming your county does 5 for DUI and 3 years for wet).

Oh...if you get a wet reckless instead of a DUI and win the DMV hearing, then you don't actually lose your license and there is no restriction. But, if you lose the DMV hearing and get a wet reckless, you're still looking at the license loss or 30 days, and then a restricted license for 5 months.

Note: It still counts as a DUI for using it as a prior.

The DMV is the key to the license if you can get a wet reckless in court.

Make sure you do your DMV hearing request with 10 days of the arrest (calendar).

Good luck with your situation.


A wet reckless is pretty much the same as a DUI for most purposes. The major differences are the fines and, in some counties, a couple of days in jail. A wet reckless (actually, reckless driving under Vehicle Code 23103, pursuant to Penal Code 23103.5) still counts as a prior DUI conviction in any future DUI prosecution and your insurance company will raise your rates just as if you had been convicted of DUI.

First of all, did you request a DMV hearing? If you are cited for driving with a blood alcohol level over .08% the officer will usually take your license and give you a pink piece of paper called a DMV DS367 form. If you don't request a hearing within ten days, DMV will automatically suspend your license. The DMV hearing is separate from the criminal case.