Are the DUI Criminal Proceedings Linked to the DMV Proceedings?
Interviewer: What if I win my criminal case but I lose my DMV hearing or vice versa? Do either have an effect on how the other case can go?
They Are Considered Separate Proceedings but the Commonality Lies in the Driver’s License Suspension
Aaron: They’re separate. There is some overlap in some ways but if a case gets dismissed in criminal court and you lose a hearing at DMV, you can either go four months of no driving or one month and no driving followed by a restricted license, which you have for the next five months.
If you were to prevail your DMV hearing but lost in court, the court would require you to attend a DUI school. You’d get a letter from Sacramento DMV saying that you’re going to be suspended for six months or you can go right into a restricted license. Then DMV’s going to require a lot of the same things that they would if you had lost the hearing. The way to go obviously is to try and win both.
Pleading to a Reduced Charge of Wet Reckless
If you can win your DMV hearing and then get charges reduced in court, say plead to a wet reckless, that’s one of the instances where a wet can be beneficial because then you would not need the additional insurance. You would probably only need to attend a 12-hour DUI school instead of a 32-hour DUI school.
Interviewer: Actually what is a wet reckless? That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that.
Aaron: A wet reckless is a reduced charge to a DUI. It still counts as a DUI if you were to get another DUI within 10 years. However, many years ago would count as a first DUI but for other purposes the penalties are less. The fine is often about half of what DUI is. That depends on which county you’re in how much that is but the fine amounts have been increasing recently.
A Reduced Charge of Wet Reckless Can Substantially Lower the Cost of the Fines
For example, in San Francisco with a DUI you’re going to paying $1,800 or $1,900. With a wet reckless you’re going to be paying more like $800 or $900. Outside of San Francisco, most other counties have higher penalties than that for DUIs.
A Wet Reckless Does Entail a Zero Tolerance for Alcohol – You Must Not Have Any Alcohol in Your System While Driving
A wet reckless will often be a shorter probation period, again depending on which county you’re in, where a regular DUI is usually three to five years on unsupervised probation. In most counties it’s three years. A wet reckless will often be 18 months to two years of unsupervised probation. Both types of charges have zero tolerance requirements where you cannot have any alcohol in your system when you are driving.
The Suspended Sentence for a Wet Reckless Is Half of What a DUI Is
One of the major differences between a DUI and a wet reckless is what we call the hang time or the suspended sentence. If you were to violate probation while you’re on probation, you’d be looking at on a DUI charge of up to six months in jail. You’d get a hearing in front of a judge, not a jury, to determine if you violated the probation. On a wet reckless the hang time or the most time that they could give you for a violation of probation is three months. It’s twice as long for a regular DUI.
The Wet Reckless Does Add 2 Points to Your Driving Record, as Does a DUI
I was going to say also for purposes of job application, if potential employers are checking your record, a wet reckless is going to be less serious of a charge than is a DUI. Sometimes it’s less severe. For insurance purposes both of them are two points. They’re looked at similarly by insurance companies.
You Will Be Restricted from Traveling to Canada; Canada Considers Any Alcohol-Related Offense to Be a Felony
Traveling to Canada will be restricted, just as when you have a DUI but a lot of people think, “It’s not a DUI. I can still get into Canada.” However, Canada has decided that anybody who has an alcohol-related driving offense is considered a felony in Canada. They will not let you in with a DUI or with a wet reckless.
There’s an exception that in most cases now someone can get in a first-time if they go through the right procedures but you can get turned away. Up until the last year or two, you couldn’t get in at all with any alcohol-related driving offense on your record.
Interviewer: Would that just be applicable then to Canada or does that affect your passport and going anywhere else in the world too, now that you mentioned it?
Aaron: Currently, the only country that will turn you away for having a DUI or a wet reckless on your record is Canada. There are some countries that will give you a hard time but that’s directed usually for their citizens. I have not seen people have much trouble anywhere else when they have a DUI on their record but, of course, that could change over time.
You could get a DUI today and five or six years from now need to go to China, Japan or France. If they change their rules and laws, you may not be able to get in. Again, you want to fight these DUI cases.
By Aaron Bortel
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