What is the exact difference between a Wet Reckless vs a DUI? Moreover the financial and penal implications? I am in California.
A California "wet reckless" is not something for which you can be arrested. It is the first-level under a DUI that prosecutors will offer as a plea-bargain.
It may be offered for a number of reasons, e.g., breathalyzer right at or just above the legal limit, first offense, attitude when dealing with the police, etc.
The maximum penalties for a wet reckless conviction are lighter than those for a DUI. $1,000 fine and no jail for wet reckless vs. $3,000 and possible jail for DUI. The probationary period for wet reckless is shorter.
However, a wet reckless conviction will still count as a prior conviction when weighing penalties for future DUI convictions and a DUI program will still have to be completed.
While there is no court-imposed suspension of your license, your license can still be suspended at the DMV administrative hearing for up to 4 months.
While there is a lot of information on the web related to this plea-bargain, it is critical to get a competent attorney to provide counsel on how to deal with such a charge and whether or not to accept a wet reckless plea offer.