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What is the difference between a "wet and reckless"and a DUI in CA? As a first time offender should I try for the former?

San Rafael, CA |
Attorney answers 7

Best Answer

Field sobriety tests are admissible unless successfully challenged.

You are much more likely to have a good result with a lawyer.

Often people think that because it isn’t a murder case, a drunk driving case is simple. Nothing could be further from the truth. These cases can be among the most complex a criminal defense lawyer handles. The government is willing to spend an incredible amount of money to convict you though. They will have expert witnesses available for consultation and trial.

That you have been charged or that some contraption says your alcohol level was at a certain level does not mean that you are guilty. It certainly does not mean that you can be proven guilty using competent, valid evidence.

Field sobriety “tests” are designed to give police a reason to arrest. You cannot “pass” them. The police will admit that almost a third of healthy young adults who take these tests without any alcohol will be judged to be “under the influence” – and that assumes they are properly administered!

After even a first drunk driving conviction, you may face employment discrimination. You will certainly be charged higher for insurance. Having such a conviction will also make you a target for drunk driving arrest in future interactions with police. You will automatically become a suspect.

You will want a lawyer who is familiar with field sobriety “tests,” perhaps one who is certified to administer these tests. You will want a lawyer familiar with the weaknesses of the contraptions that are used to report alcohol or drug levels. You want an experienced trial lawyer, used to cross-examining police officers. Police officers are practiced, experienced witnesses.

That is, you want an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer, whether you call the offense DUI, OWI, DWI, OUI, or drugged driving.

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--- Experienced DUI/DWI/OWI/Drunk Driving Lawyer in Madison, Wisconsin

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Talk to an accomplished CA DUI lawyer in your area. "Wet" denotes a relationship of alcohol to your reckless charge. Your lawyer can explain the details.

Good luck.


I agree with my colleague. a wet reckless is considered a lesser charge but you want to speak to a lawyer to understand the practical differences. If its a wet that your after it's always better to have your own attorney helping you get there.


A wet is a reduced charge but is still counted as a prior if you pick up a new DUI in 10 years. A wet will help in many areas and has reduced fees and fines. If you want a wet and you should get an attorney.

Mr. Driessen is a former Deputy DA in Orange County with over 8 years of criminal law experience. Nothing stated on this site shall in anyway be construed as legal advice, or as creating any attorney client relationship. If you would like to hire Mr. Driessen, feel free to contact him at


You should hire a lawyer in this case.

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If you have a DUI charge in Marin County you should hire a lawyer to represent you. Marin County has a policy against offering to reduce DUIs to Wet reckless convictions and your case is unlikely to be different. On the other hand a .09 in the field (a PAS test) and hopefully for you a blood test at or below that figure is indicative of a case that has strong defense characteristics and one an attorney can help you with. The field sobriety test (assuming you are asking about the .09) is normally admissible and in your case you may even want it to be admitted. Feel free to contact me if you'd like.


You absolutely need a lawyer. If you cannot afford a private attorney, ask the court to appoint the public defender to your case.

Before I get to your question, I think you may need some background information on DUI's. Many people make the mistake of thinking that a DUI conviction is "no big thing." After all, so many people have them and if they were really that serious, they'd have more jail time attached to them, wouldn't they? Don't fall into this trap. A conviction for DUI is quite serious. A DUI conviction will remain on your record for ten years. If, during those ten years, you get another DUI, the first one will be used to enhance your sentence. If you get a third, the penalties will go up exponentially from the second and a fourth will be charged as a felony. If you get into an accident and someone gets hurt and dies (either right away or later, but as a result of the accident) you can be charged with murder because having been advised by a judge how serious driving under the influence is is enough to constitute malice for future acts of doing that same thing. If you think back to where you were 10 years ago from today, you can probably appreciate that a lot of life happens in that span of time and it is quite possible that you could fall into one of these scenarios within the next decade.

Simply put, a wet and reckless is a lesser included of the charge of driving under the influence. It is counted the same as a full bore DUI for purposes of priorability (what I just explained above).

DUI cases are some of the hardest cases there are to defend. The reasons are many, but a few include the science, the public percepotion and the unique instruction for people charged with violating VC 23152(b)- the .08 per se limit. DUI is one of the only places in the criminal justice system where a jury can be instructed that they may presume you guilty if they find that your BAC was above .08. You need a lawyer who knws how to challenge the blood alcohol results (yes, there are ways of doing this in applicable cases), taking the mystique out of the "expert" testimony, and who can challenge the investigating officer on the stand. These officers testify many, many times throughout each year. They are the best expert witnesses out there and often testify in uniform, bringing the perception of unquestionable authority with it.

Yes, field sobriety tests are admissible. These are tests that are designed for people to fail. Make no mistake, there is no "pass" of a field sobriety test.

Could you go without an attorney? Of course. You have the constitutional right to defend yourself. You probably also have the right to cut out your own appendix, but I would probably advise against that too.



Haha ok point taken