Reducing to a Lesser Offense with California DUI Lawyers

Last Modified: August 10, 2023

Reducing to a Lesser Offense with California DUI Lawyers

There are several different ways in which a DUI offense may be reduced to a lesser charge in California. Experienced DUI Attorneys, will always try to litigate the case for a dismissal. However, when that isn’t possible, a seasoned DUI lawyer will try to reduce the severity of the charges. The three discussed here will be 1) reduction to a ‘wet reckless’ offense; 2) reduction to a ‘dry’ reckless offense; and 3) reduction to a traffic infraction. It should be noted that not all Bay Area counties offer these reductions in a uniform way. While Alameda tends to be more lenient and offer reductions in high BAC cases, Santa Clara and San Mateo will only offer reductions if the Blood Alcohol level is close to 0.8. Marin only recently began offering reductions to wet reckless.

A ‘wet’ reckless reduction (California vehicle code section 23013 pursuant to 23103.5) implies the involvement of alcohol or drugs in the offense. However, it is not considered a charge for which a person can be arrested; instead, it is a first-level prosecutorial reduction for a DUI and is offered as a plea bargain only (as per CA Vehicle Code 23103.5 VC). California DUI lawyers may use a ‘wet’ reckless plea because it can often mean lesser probation periods, lesser sentencing enhancements for subsequent DUI offenses, no mandatory jail time, and even avoidance of a driver’s license suspension. However, although there are advantages to taking this plea for a reduction in penalties, there are also disadvantages. For example, a ‘wet reckless’ conviction is treated the same way as any other DUI would be – it is still priorable meaning it can be listed as a prior offense for repeat offenders.

A ‘dry’ reckless plea is different than a ‘wet’ reckless one. A ‘dry’ reckless plea connotes no relationship to alcohol or drugs and is another way (and often the best-case scenario) to lessen one’s penalties for a DUI. Like a ‘wet’ reckless charge, it involves a reduction in sentencing, fines, and penalties as part of a plea bargain. This could mean reduced time in jail as well (if any sentence is imposed at all), no mandatory penalties, no forcible admission and completion of an alcohol/drug education and counseling program and no suspension of one’s driver’s license. The difference between a ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ reckless is that one is still priorable, while the other is not. A person, for example, may have a good chance at getting a ‘dry’ plea to work if their BAC is very close to .08% and the case against them is quite weak to begin with.

Reductions in one’s sentence or penalties may also be brought down to the level of a traffic infraction. A good DUI Attorney may be able to get a DUI charge thrown out, or at least reduced to a traffic infraction. Examples of traffic infractions might be an ‘exhibition of speed’ charge (CA Vehicle Code 23109 (c)) or a moving violation (or combination thereof). While this is, again, not common, these particular violations carry quite small penalties and charges when compared to a DUI charge. Often there are no probation, fines, or jail time required for these crimes in California. DUI lawyers from Summit Defense will work to reduce a jailable offense to one that will only affect your standing at the DMV.

A reduction of a DUI to the level of a traffic infraction is only considered a ‘last resort’ for many. If there are extenuating circumstances in a particular individual’s case, however, this may be an option. For instance, if there is a weak case against you, if the BAC reading is questionable, or if the police did not follow proper procedure, then there may be a possibility that your charges can be reduced to a traffic infraction. The first step is to call the renowned California DUI lawyers at Summit Defense.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a dry reckless in California?

The term Dry Reckless refers to the reduction of charges after a DUI arrest. The code section (vehicle code section 23103) does not include the term DRY. It only alleges reckless driving.

How long does a dry reckless stay on your record in California?

Like all criminal convictions, reckless driving remains on a criminal record. A petition to expunge the record under Penal code section 1203.4 will allow you to state that the case was dismissed on employment applications but will remain on your criminal record for other purposes.

How many points is a wet reckless in California?

A wet reckless conviction will lead to the DMV adding two points on your driving record.

Is it better to have DUI or reckless driving?

Reckless Driving is a far better outcome in a DUI case than a DUI conviction as it does lead to an automatic suspension of your driver’s license, has reduced fees, is not priorable in the case of subsequent DUI arrests; does not impact your insurance rates to the same extent as a DUI and generally carries less stigma.

Does reckless driving show up on background check?

Yes. Any criminal conviction shows up on background checks.

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