What Does 'Wet Reckless' Mean in a DUI Case?

By Brett Snider, Esq. on August 08, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The world of DUI arrests is populated by somewhat opaque terms like "horizontal nystagmus" as well as euphemistic ones like "wet reckless."

Sometimes referred to as "wet and reckless" or "baby DUI," a wet reckless charge covers situations in which a driver may have been near the legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.08 percent, but the driver was still found to be intoxicated or driving recklessly.

Such a defendant can often avoid a DUI charge by pleading guilty to a "wet reckless," accepting a lesser charge and probation by agreeing to a plea bargain.

However, keep in mind there is no set standard for a "wet reckless" plea, as it depends on the DUI laws in your particular state. But here are a few examples to illustrate how the lesser charge can work:


Under the Golden State's "wet reckless" statute, a prosecutor can offer a DUI defendant the choice of pleading guilty to reckless driving (which is a crime on its own in all states), with the understanding that this guilty plea will count as a prior DUI offense if a future DUI occurs.

Washington State

This state has no particular "wet reckless" statute, but prosecutors often offer first-time DUI offenders a plea bargain for what is essentially a reckless driving charge, in addition to community service and/or an alcohol diversion program. It relies on a prosecutor's discretion and is not guaranteed by statute to craft the deal.

New York

New York law contains specific prohibitions against plea bargains for lesser charges when the driver is found to be "intoxicated" or driving with a BAC of more than 0.08 percent. The statute leaves open the idea that "impaired" drivers (aka "buzzed" drivers with a BAC of less than 0.08 percent) can be offered a non-DUI charge like reckless driving, but this is at the discretion of the district attorney.

So depending on your state, a "wet reckless" plea bargain may be either laid out by statute, left to a prosecutor's discretion, or explicitly barred by statute (with some exceptions).

Is "Wet Reckless" Your Best Option?

If you are in a state or situation where a "wet reckless" is an option, you can look forward to some of the following benefits for pleading guilty to it, such as:

Make sure to consult with en experienced DUI attorney in your area to discuss whether a "wet reckless" is an option in your case.

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