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What is the difference between a DUI and "wet" reckless?

When you are involved in an alcohol related driving offense there are many legal terms that might be used in your case. The most common terms are DUI, DWI and "wet" reckless. The term DUI stands for driving under the influence, and is interchangeable with the term DWI, which stands for driving while intoxicated. The legal system in California only uses the term DUI when either drug or alcohol induced impaired driving is at issue. Even if somebody uses the term DWI on accident in California, they are referring to a DUI. There is, however, a significant difference between a DUI conviction and a "wet" reckless conviction.

The "wet" reckless charge was devised to provide an incentive for DUI defendants to enter into a plea bargain, in fact a "wet" reckless is not something you can actually be arrested for. There is technically no actual law on the books that defines a "wet" reckless, rather CVC 23103.5 allows a defendant to make a plea of no contest on a lesser charge of CVC 23103 for reckless driving with a notation that alcohol was involved.

A "wet" reckless offers the following benefits over a DUI:

  1. Mandatory fines may be reduced.
  2. Mandatory alcohol related classes may be reduced.
  3. Jail time will likely be eliminated. This is helpful if you have a prior alcohol related driving offense, as a "wet" reckless will eliminate the mandatory jail time a DUI conviction wold carry with the prior convictions.
  4. Some California counties mandate the installation of a ignition interlock device on your vehicle after a DUI conviction and a "wet" reckless conviction can eliminate this requirement.
  5. It may help you maintain any jobs and/or professional licenses that forbid a DUI conviction.
  6. Your criminal record will show a "wet" reckless conviction which often looks better than a DUI conviction.


Here is what a "wet" reckless will not do for you:

  1. Your "wet" reckless will still be reported to the DMV and the DMV will treat it the same as a DUI in terms of suspension of your driver's license.
  2. The "wet" reckless will stay on your DMV record for 10 years.
  3. Insurance companies will treat your "wet" reckless identical to how they would treat a DUI, and thus you will not save on your car insurance with the plea bargain.
  4. Your "wet" reckless will still be used as a prior offense for up to 10 years, the same as a DUI, if you are convicted of another alcohol related driving offense in the future.


As you can see a "wet" reckless will not eliminate many of the punitive requirements that accompany a DUI, but there are several reasons why a "wet" reckless is preferable to a DUI.

California "Wet" Reckless And DUI Expungement

We are one of the only law firms in California that specialize in 'wet" reckless and DUI expungement. We have helped clients all over California expunge their DUI and "wet" reckless convictions from their criminal records. We pride ourselves on providing top notch legal services and impeccable customer service all at the the guaranteed lowest fixed prices. We are here to answer any questions you might have about the expungement process and we greatly look forward to serving you.

View "Wet" Reckless & DUI Expungement Service

David Huffman - California Expungement Lawyer
David Huffman, Esq.
Founding Attorney, Fresh Start Law Center


"Wet" Reckless & DUI Expungement

DUI / Wet Reckless Expungement


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