Reckless Driving Defense Lawyers – Vehicle Code 23103(a) VC

Reckless Driving – VC 23103(a)

Reckless driving (also known as “dry reckless”) is a misdemeanor in California. Under California Vehicle Code 23103(a), it is a crime to intentionally and recklessly drive a vehicle on a public highway, street, or public parking facility in a manner that involves a substantial risk to the safety of others.

Prosecution of VC 23103(a)

In order to be convicted of reckless driving, the prosecution must prove that you:

  1. Drove a vehicle on a highway, street, or in an off-street parking facility; and
  2. Intentionally drove with wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

“Wanton Disregard” – Defined

Establishing wanton disregard in California.
The court must consider all circumstances in your case in order to establish wanton disregard.

You are considered to have acted with wanton disregard for the safety of others if:

  1. You were aware that your actions amounted to a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm; and
  2. You intentionally ignored that risk. It is not necessary that you intended to cause any actual damage.

In determining whether or not you acted with wanton disregard, the prosecution will consider how fast you were driving. However, the fact that you were speeding cannot be the sole reason for establishing wanton disregard; rather, the court must consider all of the circumstances in your case.

“Vehicle” – Defined

A vehicle, for purposes of VC 23103(a), is broadly defined. The legal definition is any method whereby people or things are moved on a road or highway.

VC 23013(a) does not encompass any devices where movement is created solely by human effort, such as a bicycle. Similarly, machines that are used only on stationary rails or tracks such as trains or trams are also excluded from coverage under VC 23103(a).


A “highway” is any area maintained by the public and open to the public for travel purposes, which includes streets and other public roads.

An “off-street parking facility” is any parking facility that is open for use by the public. This includes facilities open for public use to retail customers so long as no fee is charged for parking. Private paid parking garages are excluded under this law.

Possible Defenses to Reckless Driving

A skilled criminal defense attorney can raise several defenses on your behalf. Some of these defenses might include:

  • You were not driving the vehicle in question;
  • You did not intentionally drive recklessly;
  • You did not act with wanton disregard for the safety of others based on the circumstances of your case;
  • You were not on a public road when you allegedly drove recklessly;
  • Your driving was the result of an emergency situation; or
  • You were acting under duress when your drove recklessly.

Sentence and Punishment for Reckless Driving

  • If convicted of reckless driving under VC 23103(a), you face:
    a maximum sentence of 90 days in county jail;
  • a $1,000 fine; or
  • both jail and fine.

“Wet Reckless” Plea Bargain – VC 23103.5

Wet RecklessUnder California Vehicle Code 23103.5, the prosecution is permitted to accept a plea agreement of reckless driving under Vehicle Code Section 23103 as a substitute for a violation of California’s DUI law, with a notation on the record that alcohol or drug use may have been involved.

This is known as a “wet reckless” plea bargain. If you have been charged with a DUI, a skilled attorney may be able to get your charges reduced to a wet reckless. By doing so, you face less severe consequences than that of a DUI conviction.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Reckless Driving

What are the advantages if I plead to a dry reckless v. a wet reckless?

If you were arrested for DUI, your DUI defense attorney may be able to get your charge reduced to a dry reckless. This depends on your BAC level and whether the prosecution has sufficient evidence to convict you. If this occurs and your DUI is reduced to a dry reckless per VC 23103, you will receive many advantages, including:

(a) No required alcohol program;
(b) Lesser fine;
(c) No cumulative punishment if later arrested for DUI or wet reckless; and
(d) No license suspension through the court.

How could I have acted recklessly when I did no harm or cause no damage?

It does not matter whether actual harm was caused. It is only relevant whether you created a known and unjustifiable risk.

What if I was driving recklessly because of an emergency situation?

If you were driving recklessly as a result of an emergency situation, you should not be convicted of this crime. If you can establish, for example, that you had a medical emergency, a lawyer may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed.

Have you been charged with reckless driving in violation of VC 23103(a)? Call the Skilled Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

If you or a loved one has been charged with reckless driving in violation of VC 23103(a), you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

Wallin & Klarich reckless driving lawyers
A reckless driving charge is a serious offense. Call our offices today for immediate help.

At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing reckless driving and DUI charges for over 30 years. We will meet with you to review the facts of your case, and plan a defense strategy that will help you get the very best outcome possible.

With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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