California Vehicle Code’s Lesser Charges to a DUI

Your defense attorneys are always looking for ways to obtain a dismissal or offer to plead to a lesser offense than the initial DUI charges brought against you.  Our DUI lawyers thoroughly review all discovery for any and all factors aiding a dismissal or reduction argument.  In some cases, unfortunately, this may not be possible.  However, in those where it is, our DUI lawyers will find it!  Between a dismissal and a plea to a DUI charge exists several options.  Each lesser offense carries with it fewer probation requirements and thus fewer penalties and responsibilities for our clients to be worried about.  The following are some potential available lesser offenses that a D.A. can reduce the original DUI charge to:

Wet Reckless – VC 23103.5

The first “step down” from a DUI charge is a plea to what is commonly referred to as a “wet reckless.”  This means simply that there was “alcohol-related” reckless driving.  It does not impart any particular blood alcohol level to the driver.  Although a “wet reckless” is considered a better outcome than a DUI plea for many reasons, under California law, the actual difference between the two is minimal.  Pleading guilty to a “wet reckless” may result in the payment of less fines, sometimes a lesser amount of time spent in an alcohol education program, and, if it is your first offense, typically no jail or alternative type of confinement time.  In addition, a “wet reckless” may appear better than a DUI for insurance purposes as well as for those who drive a company car.

Also, while a “wet reckless” always sounds better than a DUI, there are certain things you should know when you agree to plead guilty to this type of lesser charge.  First and foremost, a “wet reckless” can be used as a prior alcohol-related driving offense the same way as a 1st offense DUI would if you were to receive another one within ten (10) years of your first conviction date.  In plain terms, this means that if within ten (10) years following a “wet reckless” conviction (the date the plea is entered and you are sentenced by a court of law, not the date of the initial arrest) you were to be arrested and found guilty of another alcohol-related driving offense, it would still be treated as a 2nd alcohol-related driving offense or DUI.  Also, from the DMV’s perspective, because they are a separate entity from the courts, a plea to a lesser offense in the courts does not affect the outcome of your driver’s license status with regard to the DMV hearing.  The DMV hearing officer will independently determine the status of your license and ability to drive based on the evidence/arguments presented at the APS hearing.

Dry Reckless – VC 23103

A California vehicle Code violation that is considered to be lesser to a “wet reckless”, is the offense commonly referred to as a “dry reckless”.  “Dry reckless” means exactly what it sounds like, a non-alcohol related reckless driving violation.  Obtaining a reduction in charges from a DUI to a dry reckless from the D.A. is a major improvement that your DUI lawyers can try and get for you.  While the goal for our DUI defense lawyers is always to obtain an outright dismissal of all charges for our clients, sometimes (depending on the particular facts of each case) that is an unrealistic goal.  If your DUI attorney can negotiate a plea to a dry reckless for you, we consider that to be a victory.  However, for this to happen, the facts usually have to be on your side.  The District Attorney’s office and the courts always prefer to have an alcohol related conviction in these situations in the event that the same thing happens again in the future.

Traffic Violations

There are some rare cases where someone is arrested and initially charged with a DUI and skilled DUI lawyers are able to get the charges reduced to simple traffic violations. When a DUI case is viewed as a potential “loser” at trial for the prosecution, but for some reason they are still unwilling to dismiss the initial charges, it is sometimes possible to get them to agree to a plea to one or two moving or sometimes even non-moving violations under the vehicle code.  These types of pleas are to infractions, rather than misdemeanors, and are obviously the most preferable outcome next to an outright dismissal.  The only punishment that the law can impose when convicted of an infraction or even multiple infractions are fines (and even those are capped and thus cannot be nearly as high as the fine in a DUI plea).