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DUI Reduction: Dry Reckless

If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence in the state of California, you’re looking at some serious penalties. However, with an experienced attorney by your side, some — maybe even all — of these penalties can be avoided. One method used is to bargain for reduced charges, such as a dry reckless.

What Is A ‘Dry Reckless’ Charge?

A dry reckless is another way of saying reckless driving. So what defines reckless driving? According to Vehicle Code §23103, a person is guilty of reckless driving if they drove a vehicle in “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” This basically means that you knew that the manner in which you were driving your vehicle was unsafe, either to other people or their property, and yet you did it anyway.

Comparing The Penalties For Dry Reckless Vs. DUI

It is important to bear in mind that a dry reckless charge is still a misdemeanor, and as such, comes with its own list of penalties. However, as rough as those penalties may be, they are still not as bad as the penalties you may be facing with a DUI charge:

First-Time DUI Offender

Dry Reckless DUI
County Jail Time Up to 90 days (3 mo.) Up to 180 days (6 mo.)
Fine Amount $145-$1,000 $390-$1,000*
Probation Period 1-2 years 3-4 years
Mandatory License Suspension Period None 6 months
DUI School? Maybe Yes (3 mo.)
Priorable? No Yes

*Does not include Penalty Assessment fees (typically ~$2,000)


Dry Reckless DUI
County Jail Time Up to 90 days (3 mo.) Up to 365 days (1 year)
Fine Amount $145-$1,000 $390-$1,000*
Probation Period 1-2 years 3-4 years
Mandatory License Suspension Period None 2 years for 2nd offense 3 years for 3rd offense
DUI School? Maybe Yes (18-30 mo.)
Priorable? No Yes

*Does not include Penalty Assessment fees (typically ~$2,000)

Apart from the two most notable differences in county jail time and the fine amounts, the differences in probation periods, mandatory license suspension periods and priorability make a dry reckless conviction worth pursuing over a DUI.

For example, a common rule when you are on probation is that you are not allowed to drive with any amount of alcohol in your system. If you were to violate this rule, you will be said to have violated probation, and as a result may face more jail time, fines, and may even have to re-start your entire probation period all over again.

Likewise, having a prior DUI conviction on your record means that a second DUI charge within a 10-year period will result in much harsher penalties than the first time around, such as up to one year in county jail, three to four years of probation, a two-year suspension of your driver’s license, and 18 months of alcohol education classes. If you’re facing a second or third DUI conviction, pleading to a dry reckless is a great alternative.

Another benefit is that it will not necessarily cause your insurance premium to increase or be canceled. The same cannot be said about a DUI conviction or even a wet reckless.

Does My Case Qualify For Reduction?

There are a number of different factors that come into play when determining the likelihood of reducing your DUI charge, but the most important is whether or not the prosecutor has enough evidence to convict you of the DUI as it stands.

Our skilled attorney will make it a point to check and double-check the results of your blood or breath sample and make sure the devices used were properly calibrated at the time of your arrest. Furthermore, during our free sit-down consultation session, we will hear your side of the story starting from the moments leading up to your arrest to make sure that it was legally valid and that all of your Constitutional rights were respected.

The second most important factor is how close your blood alcohol content (BAC) is to the legal limit of .08%. Typically, prosecutors are more willing to offer a dry reckless when the defendant is between a .08% and a .1% — the higher your BAC, the less forgiving the prosecutor.

The third most important factor is your criminal record. If you have a “clean” record with no prior run-ins with the law, the prosecutor is more likely to look favorably upon your case.

How Can Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, Help?

If you’ve been charged with DUI, Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, can help. Robert Ernenwein is a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney, and we will use his knowledge of how prosecution views DUI cases and our attorneys’ 60 combined years of criminal defense experience to help get your DUI charges reduced.

We know you’re ready to put your past behind you and get your life back on track and we’re ready to do what needs to be done in order to make that happen.

Have you or someone you know been charged with DUI or any other crime? Contact Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, Los Angeles and Orange County criminal defense lawyers, today at 424-552-3901 for a free case review.

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