Published on:

Dry Reckless & Wet Reckless: What Is The Difference?

A dry reckless is defined under California Vehicle Code Section 23103. It states, “A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.”

The penalty for a guilty plea or a conviction under this statute is “imprisonment in a county jail for not less than five days nor more than 90 days or by a fine of not less than one hundred forty-five dollars ($145) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.”

Most often in San Diego County, the prosecutor offers three years of informal probation and a fine of approximately $855 on a dry reckless case. In addition, this is a non-alcohol, non-drug, and a non-injury charge; therefore, it is not a priorable offense. This means that if you are charged with drunk driving in the future, this conviction cannot be used to enhance the punishment of that case.

A wet reckless is a reduced drunk driving charge, California Vehicle Code Section 23103(a) per 23103.5.

The statutory penalty for a guilty plea or a conviction under this statute is the same as a dry reckless, with the addition of an alcohol and drug educational program. However, in San Diego County, the standard offer is three years of informal probation, a fine of approximately $1,036, a first conviction alcohol and drug education program, (either three months or twelve hours depending on the BAC), a one hour MADD (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving) panel class, and a referral to SAAU, (Substance Abuse Assessment Unit).

Unlike the dry reckless, the wet reckless conviction is priorable. So if you plead or are convicted of a wet reckless and you are facing another DUI within ten years, the wet reckless will be looked at as a DUI, thus enhancing the punishment in the new case.

Both a dry and wet reckless are lesser charges in drunk driving cases. Often the prosecutor will offer the reduced charge if the blood-alcohol content, or BAC, is close to the legal limit of a .08 percent or if there are problems with proving the DUI case. An experienced drunk driving attorney may be able to negotiate one of these lesser charges after evaluating the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case.

The above blog article summarizing dry reckless and wet reckless is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Each case involves distinct facts which may change the offer given by the prosecution or the sentence imposed by the judge. In addition, laws may have changed since the last update. For the latest information on drunk driving cases, the penalties, and your specific facts and possible defenses, contact a DUI defense attorney in your area.


If you are accused of drunk driving in San Diego County, call The Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman right away. We offer a free, confidential consultation so you risk nothing by speaking to us about your case and your rights. To contact us, send us a message online using the “Contact Us” form on this page or call 619-260-1122 today.