A first-offense driving under the influence (DUI) charge might not immediately seem like a big deal. In many states, a first-offense DUI is unlikely to lead to jail time. In fact, in some jurisdictions, it's not uncommon for a first-time offender to enter a diversion program that avoids having a DUI conviction on their record at all. However, Oklahoma has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country. It's not uncommon for a first-time DUI offender to serve jail time, depending on the circumstances.
DUI Laws in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, there are three distinct ways in which you can be charged with DUI. They include:
- Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more;
- Operating a vehicle with any amount of a schedule I controlled substance in your systems; or
- Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that it renders you incapable of driving safely.
The prosecutor in your case needs to only prove that you are guilty of any one of these three behaviors to obtain a DUI conviction. Most cases are built around tests that reflect your BAC is higher than the legal limit. That's not the only evidence that the State of Oklahoma can use against you, though. The prosecutor can elicit testimony from the arresting officer or other witnesses regarding your behavior, any admissions you made, or any alcohol in your vehicle.
Implied Consent Laws in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, DUI is considered a significant threat to public health and safety. Due to that threat, under Oklahoma law, when you drive you are deemed to have given consent to provide a blood, urine, saliva, or breath sample any time you are arrested under suspicion of DUI. It is incumbent on law enforcement to inform you of the potential penalties for refusing to submit to a test. This is typically done by the officer going over an implied consent form, asking you if you understand your rights, and having you sign the form.
Penalties for a DUI First Offense
With a minimum jail term of 10 days for a first offense DUI, Oklahoma has some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the country. You can face additional penalties due to some enhancements like registering a high BAC or failing to take a BAC test.
For standard first-offense DUIs in Oklahoma, a conviction carries a minimum jail term of 10 days and a maximum of one year. The 10-day minimum jail term is higher than in most states. For example, neighboring Arkansas requires a seven-day jail sentence for a second offense. One's first DUI in Oklahoma also carries a fine between $500 and $1,000. Upon conviction, you will also face a driver's license suspension of between 30 and 180 days.
High BAC Cases
Cases in which you registered a BAC of .15 or more are known as an aggravated DUI. While your DUI charge remains a misdemeanor with the same jail sentencing range, you will face tougher license suspensions in an aggravated DUI case. An aggravated DUI conviction may result in you being required to install an ignition interlock device in order to use your vehicle. It can also lead to mandatory substance abuse treatment.
Failure to Take a Test
Similar to cases in which you register a high BAC, a refusal to take a blood, breath, or urine test can lead to increased driver's license penalties. The first offense of refusing a test after being read your implied consent warning will result in a mandatory six-month suspension of your driving privileges. What's more, you will also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) for a year and a half. An IID is a device installed in your vehicle that requires you to blow into it before starting the engine. The vehicle won't start if the IID registers any alcohol on your breath.
Legal Defenses to DUI Charges
There are two common defenses your Oklahoma DUI attorney may raise. The first involves challenges to the traffic stop that preceded the DUI arrest. The second is a challenge to the chemical test.
Challenges to the Traffic Stop
One of the strongest defenses available in DUI cases is challenging the underlying traffic stop. The Constitution protects you against illegal searches or seizures by the government. Known as “fruit of the poisonous tree,” any evidence collected due to an illegal search or seizure cannot be used against you at trial.
This can include evidence collected from your vehicle after an illegal traffic stop or an illegal search of your home. If the police questioned you without reading you your Miranda warnings, any statements you made may also be thrown out. Your Oklahoma DUI defense attorney will review the facts of your case; if your constitutional rights were violated, an attorney may be able to have evidence against you excluded at your trial.
Challenges to the Test
Even if you were lawfully stopped and arrested for suspicion of DUI, you may have a valid defense if law enforcement failed to follow their own procedures when it comes to testing your BAC. Officers are required to follow standardized procedures to collect blood, breath, or urine samples. They are also required to have up-to-date certifications on using any testing devices.
If an officer incorrectly takes a sample or isn't properly accredited to run a test, the results of that test may be excluded at trial. Your Oklahoma DUI defense attorney will need to carefully review all of the documentation relevant to any test you submitted to when developing your defense strategy.
Contact an Experienced Oklahoma DUI Defense Attorney
More than almost any other state, a first-offense DUI conviction in Oklahoma can drastically affect your life. You could face stiff penalties including fines and mandatory jail time. If you have been arrested in Oklahoma for a DUI, the Worden Law Firm is ready to help. We have the experience and skill to help give you your best chance at a positive outcome. Contact the Worden Law Firm to set up a free consultation.