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Can I Get My DUI Reduced in California?


Getting convicted for a DUI in California can result in harsh criminal penalties, such as driver’s license suspension, fines, and even a jail sentence. Fortunately, under certain circumstances, you can avoid being charged with a DUI altogether through a “wet reckless” plea. 

According to California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5, wet reckless simply means reckless driving involving alcohol. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense involving dangerous driving conduct. 

Keep in mind, you cannot be arrested for or charged with wet reckless. Rather, this is part of a plea agreement, in which the defendant pleads guilty or no contest to wet reckless in exchange for having the more serious DUI charge dropped. 

The following are some of the benefits of a wet reckless plea bargain in California: 

  • Shorter jail term – A wet reckless conviction carries a jail sentence of up to 90 days. On the other hand, getting convicted of a first-time DUI is punishable by a maximum jail term of six months. 

  • Shorter probation period – While a wet reckless generally carries a one- to two-year probationary period, probation for a DUI often lasts three to five years. A shorter probation period could lead to expunging a conviction much sooner. 

  • Lower fines – Although a DUI and a wet reckless conviction are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, a DUI carries court-imposed penalty assessments that can increase the fine significantly. 

  • No license suspension – A wet reckless is not punishable by court-ordered driver's license suspension, as well as mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) installation. In contrast, a first DUI offense carries license suspension for six months. Additionally, a wet reckless conviction will not trigger a mandatory suspension of a commercial driver’s license (CDL). 

  • Shorter DUI school – A wet reckless may include participating in an alcohol education program for six weeks, while the program lasts a minimum of three months for individuals convicted of a DUI. 

However, a wet reckless is considered a “priorable” offense, which means that if you are convicted of a DUI within the next 10 years, you would be charged with a second DUI for the purposes of assessing penalties. Furthermore, you will only receive two points on your DMV driving record. 

A prosecutor may offer a wet reckless plea deal if one or all the following circumstances are true: 

  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was under or close to .08 percent 

  • You do not have a significant history of alcohol-related and/or drug-related offenses 

  • There are weaknesses in the prosecution’s case (e.g., procedural flaws in the DUI arrest/investigation and other mitigating circumstances) 

Even though a wet reckless conviction is much better than getting convicted of a DUI, you may still have an opportunity to have your case dismissed entirely. An experienced criminal defense attorney can examine your case and determine your available legal options to obtain the most favorable outcome. 

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Santa Barabara, call Appel & Morse at (805) 467-6060 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation. Get a team of former prosecutors on your side! 

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