What is Reckless Driving and Why is it Better Than DUI?

November 19, 2015

Reckless driving

This article discusses Reckless Driving in Los Angeles.  Click on the links below to go directly to your topic of interest.

Reckless driving is an offense that can be prosecuted when a person intentionally drives a vehicle in a “wanton” disregard for the safety of person or property.  To prove reckless driving, the People of the State of California have to prove that you drove a vehicle, that you were aware that your actions created a risk of harm and you ignored that risk.  There is no requirement that you intended to cause damage.  All elements of the offense and the intent must be proven to secure a conviction with the speeding alone is not enough to prove reckless driving.  If you are arrested for reckless driving, you need to contact an attorney because it is a misdemeanor violation that will create a “criminal record” if you are found guilty.  Reckless driving jury instructions are found in Calcrim 2200.

More often the not, reckless driving is discussed in the contest of a DUI prosecution.  Getting arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles does not mean you will be found guilty of a DUI.  Often, it is possible to get a reduction in DUI charges by negotiating a plea bargain deal.  A reckless driving is a very common alternative to DUI that is used often as a reduction from original DUI charges.  There are two types of reckless driving offenses that can be negotiated after a DUI arrest, a “dry reckless” and a “wet reckless”.

 

Reckless Driving: “Wet Reckless”

A type of reckless driving that is called, “wet reckless” is an alternative to a DUI charge that is used to settle DUI cases in Los Angeles DUI courtrooms.  One of many strategies available to you in a DUI prosecution is to convince the prosecutor to dismiss the DUI charges and instead to allow you to plead guilty to an amended charge of a “wet reckless“.

A “wet reckless” is not the name of the statute; instead, it is a commonly used term reserved for a reckless driving where alcohol was a factor contributing in the offense.  The term was created by the prosecutors and the California legislature to recognize that some DUI cases are not as severe or strong as other and to allow some drivers not to be convicted of DUI cases when the evidence of a DUI is week.  By far, the most important and forgotten consequence of a “wet reckless” conviction is its priorability.  A person who has a previous DUI conviction within 10 years of the next DUI conviction will face a harsher consequences both in terms of an offense and in terms of the punishment.  Similarly, if you have a “wet reckless” conviction within 10 years of a new arrest for a DUI, you will also be charged with a DUI with a prior and will face harsher consequences for your DUI case.  For example, if you never had a DUI conviction but had a wet reckless conviction less then 10 years ago and now is arrested for a DUI, you will be charged with a second DUI despite never been convicted of a first DUI offense.

 

Reckless Driving: “Dry Reckless”

Mainly because of the priorability of a “wet reckless”, Los Angeles DUI lawyer recommends that all attempts are made to negotiate a “dry reckless” disposition.  A “dry reckless” conviction is similarly a term of art reserved for a reckless driving that does not involve use of alcohol.  In contrast to a “wet reckless” conviction, a “dry reckless” conviction is not priorable and therefore a person who has only a “dry reckless” conviction on his record within the past 10  years can not be charged with a DUI with a prior.  Los Angeles DUI attorney have vast experience litigating and settling cases in Los Angeles DUI courts that allows him to get the best possible deals for his clients and to negotiate the alternative pleas to reckless driving from the prosecutors.

The code section for reckless driving is found in California Vehicle Code section 23103.  When a person pleads to a “dry reckless”, he pleads to this California Vehicle Code section.  A “wet reckless” conviction is codified in California Vehicle Code section 23103 pursuant to California Vehicle Code section 23103.5.  When a person pleads to a wet reckless, he will plead to a charge of CVC 23103 per 23103.5.  Often the DMV record will omit reference to CVC 23103.5, but careful read of the DMV printout or reference to the court file will confirm the type of reckless driving you are convicted of.

 

Why Reckless Driving is Better Then DUI

First, a reckless driving just like a DUI carry points with the DMV.  Both offenses, reckless driving (whether wet or dry) or a DUI carry 2 points.  However, unlike a reckless driving conviction, a DUI conviction will also cause a license suspension or revocation.  Also, in Los Angeles county, a DUI conviction will require a mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device that will require a code an a breathing into a machine to start your car.

The maximum punishment for a reckless driving is significantly lower then for a DUI and only a possible jail sentence of up to 3 month in the county jail.  This is the lowest possible jail sentence for any misdemeanor in California criminal offense punishment scheme.  In contrast, a first offense DUI carries up to 6 month in the county jail.  Higher jail sentences can be imposed on second and third DUI offenders that can be punished with up to 364 days county jail sentence.  Also, a DUI conviction has a minimal mandatory fine of $390.00 plus mandatory penalty and assessments.  The penalty and assessments significantly increase a fine so that a standard fine of $390 will end up costing nearly $2,000.00 at the cashier.  In contrast, a reckless driving has a minimal mandatory fine of $145.00 plus the mandatory penalty and assessment.  Thus a DUI fines are a lot higher and cost a lot more where in contrast a typical dry reckless fine will be near $240 plus penalty and assessments and $300 plus penalty and assessments for a wet reckless.

Lastly, the court must impose an alcohol program for 1st and 2nd offender.  For a first offense, the program will be at least 3 month, but can be as high as 9 month when refusal to submit to a chemical test is alleged or when the blood alcohol level is over .20% BAC.  A reckless driving plea does not have a requirement that an alcohol program is ordered as part of the probation.  A “wet reckless” disposition will have a 12 hours alcohol education class imposed as part of the probation and a standard disposition for a “dry reckless” will not have any classes ordered as part of the probation.

 

If you are arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, call our office as soon as you can.  We can help you defend most DUI’s in Los Angles and know how to get best possible deals including reckless driving offers.  We provide quality representation at affordable price. For your convenience, Los Angeles DUI attorneys accept all major forms of payment and have offices throughout the county.  Los Angeles DUI attorney is only a phone call away.  Please call now to talk to an attorney directly.

Los Angeles DUI Attorney

 

(818) 921 7744  Call anytime to get a free consultation with Los Angeles DUI Attorney.

 

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