It was fairly obvious from the set of facts that the senator would be offered a “wet reckless” charge instead of a DUI. His blood alcohol level was really low. However, with some of the other factors reported (driving the wrong way down a one way lane) he may have wanted to get the matter behind him and not take it to jury trial.
Sen. Ben Hueso was sentenced Thursday to three years probation and ordered to complete an alcohol education program stemming from his August arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol near the Capitol.
The San Diego lawmaker won’t be required to serve any jail time.
Megan Virga, Hueso’s attorney, accepted a plea deal on the senator’s behalf during a brief hearing in Sacramento Superior Court.
Hueso did not appear in court.
In September, the senator was charged with two counts of DUI, which carry a maximum of six months jail time and a $1,000 fine.
Through his attorney on Thursday, however, Hueso pleaded no contest to a lesser “wet reckless” charge. It carries a $240 fine plus other assessments for a total of about $1,400, Virga said.
The senator was arrested by the CHP early on the morning of Aug. 22 after he was spotted driving the wrong way on a one-way road near downtown Sacramento, authorities said at the time.
Hueso had been granted delays at each of the two previously scheduled hearings in the case, one which was rescheduled to two days after Election Day in November.
He defeated challenger and fellow Democrat Rafael Estrada in the fall contest 54.9 percent to 45.1 percent.
Through his staff, Hueso has declined several requests this fall to discuss his arrest or to elaborate on his statement released in August, in which he pledged to “engage in immediate, corrective actions to ensure this kind of personal conduct is never repeated.”
Hueso represents Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach, Coronado, a portion of the City of San Diego, Imperial County and the southern part of Riverside.
He served on the San Diego City Council from 2006 through 2010 before being elected to the state Assembly in 2010 and the state Senate in 2013.
Hueso’s blood alcohol content following his arrest was 0.08, authorities have said.
Sacramento County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Grippi said in September that Hueso was offered the lesser charge because in cases where defendants register 0.08, right at the limit for impaired driving, it can be difficult for prosecutors to prove that a person was legally drunk. That’s due to the “scientific error factor” in the tests used to determine blood alcohol content, Grippi said.
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A San Diego “wet reckless” is another name for the charge of reckless driving involving alcohol. A wet reckless is not something you can get arrested for. If you are arrested for a San Diego DUI and have a good defense or the prosecution believes there is some weakness to the San Diego DUI charge, the prosecution may offer a plea bargain for a wet reckless.
A wet reckless plea is not a guarantee and it is most commonly offered after your first offense and a lowered blood alcohol level. The likelihood of a prosecutor offering a wet reckless plea to a second time DUI offender is extremely slim. However, if you are a repeat offender and can get the prosecution to offer a wet reckless, you are the kind of person that would benefit most from this plea. When convicted with a wet reckless, there are no mandatory sentencing enhancements if you are a repeat offender. Therefore, if you are a repeat offender and can get the charge reduced to a wet reckless, you may escape mandatory jail time, larger fines, and longer court imposed license suspension.
Compared to a San Diego DUI conviction, the penalties that go along with a wet reckless are much lighter. The maximum fine for a wet reckless is much lower than when convicted with a DUI. Additionally, there is no mandatory jail sentence and your time on probation will be less than a San Diego DUI. You will still have to complete a court ordered driving under the influence program but there is no court-imposed suspension on your license. However you have to still win your DMV APS hearing to have this happen.
It is important to remember that a wet reckless is still considered a prior offense on your record if you are arrested for a DUI in the future. If you are arrested and convicted of another DUI within 10 years of the wet reckless, you will be treated as a repeat offender and the penalties will be applied according to the standards for asecond offense DUI.