Driving under the influence often brings up images of buzzed party-goers getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink. But alcohol is just one of the many substances that can cause intoxication. Under Oklahoma law, driving while impaired by narcotics or prescription drugs is as serious of a crime as a DUI for alcohol. While Oklahoma has special provisions in their DUI statute to address driving under the influence of drugs, these cases are fraught with false positive tests and pseudoscience. If you are ready to fight the DUI drugs charges against you, the Worden Law Firm is ready to help.
Oklahoma DUI Laws
Oklahoma law has one statute that covers all forms of DUI, including intoxication from both drugs and alcohol. According to the statute, you are guilty of DUI if you are driving a motor vehicle in public while you:
- Have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more;
- Are under the influence of alcohol;
- Have any traceable amount of a Schedule I substance or one of its metabolites in your blood, saliva, or urine;
- Are under the influence of any intoxicating substance other than alcohol which could render you unable to drive safely; or
- Are under the combined influence of alcohol and any other intoxicating substance.
Oklahoma's DUI statute is broader and more detailed than many other states. For example, many other states only prohibit driving under the influence of drugs (usually requiring an elevated level of the intoxicant in the blood), while Oklahoma bans driving while having any trace of a Schedule I drug in your system.
A 1st offense conviction of DUI is a misdemeanor in Oklahoma. It carries a county jail sentence of between 10 days and 1 year, as well as a fine of up to $1,000. Second and subsequent DUIs are felonies. A 2nd offense DUI carries a prison term of between 1 and 5 years. Upon conviction, you will also face a maximum fine of $2,500. For third and subsequent offenses, you will face a jail term of between 1 and 10 years, as well as a maximum fine of $5,000.
Testing for Drugs
If during a traffic stop, an officer suspects you were driving while under the influence of drugs, they can request a chemical test. While breathalyzers may only register alcohol, blood tests are able to detect the presence of many Schedule I controlled substances or their metabolites.
To use the results of a chemical test against you at trial, the state must follow standardized guidelines for collecting and testing the sample. First, the sample must be properly collected and stored. The blood draw can be done by the arresting officer or, potentially, a healthcare profession. Each draw should take three samples which must be mixed with an anticoagulant as well as a preservative. These substances are designed to protect the blood sample and maintain accuracy.
Once the sample is taken, it must be sent to the crime lab for testing. When a blood sample changes hands, it must follow what is known as a chain of custody. Under Oklahoma law, the sample must carry with it paperwork to track each person who has handled the sample. That allows for witnesses to testify that the sample wasn't tampered with while it was in their custody. The chain of custody is just one area where an experienced DUI defense attorney can poke holes in the accuracy of a chemical test result or even have it excluded from trial entirely.
There are regulations regarding the testing process as well. The lab worker doing the testing must be licensed with the state to perform the tests. What's more, the equipment must have recently calibrated and certified as accurate. Finally, the entire facility at which the sample is tested must be approved by the Oklahoma Board of Tests. Any problems with the certification of the tester or the lab equipment can have a huge impact on your case. An attorney with experience in DUI drugs cases will review the documentation and ensure that you are being treated fairly by the courts.
Despite the court's heavy reliance on drug test results, there is a persistent issue with false positives under Oklahoma's DUI law. According to the third prong of the DUI statute, any trace of a Schedule I substance or its metabolite is grounds for a DUI. The problem is that some controlled substances metabolize slowly; this means the remnants of the drugs are still in your system long after any intoxication has subsided. This can result in drivers using controlled substances legally, but still getting arrested for DUI long after the effects of any substance are gone.
Marijuana DUI in Oklahoma
Marijuana is one of the most difficult drugs to pinpoint with chemical testing. Despite the fact that many states, including Oklahoma, have decriminalized marijuana or lessened restrictions on its use, Oklahoma still categorizes it as a Schedule I drug. The issue is that the metabolites of marijuana will remain in your system for weeks after you ingest the drug.
Typically, the effects of marijuana will subside after 90 minutes. However, the metabolites will last in your system for up to 30 days. The presence of metabolites alone is enough to merit a DUI conviction in Oklahoma, so it is possible that you could legally ingest marijuana in Colorado only to be arrested for DUI drugs in Oklahoma weeks later.
Prescription Drug DUI in Oklahoma
Even if you have a valid prescription, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of any Schedule I drug. That includes most prescription drugs, including painkillers and sleeping pills. While most prescription medications will show up in your blood tests, they metabolize much more quickly than marijuana. While this leads to fewer false positives, it also can present stronger evidence that you were under the influence if your chemical test comes back positive.
Hiring the right Oklahoma DUI Attorney
A charge of DUI Drugs in Oklahoma has the same stiff penalties that alcohol-related DUIs have, but they must be approached differently than a standard DUI. The experienced DUI defense attorneys at the Worden Law Firm have years of experience defending DUI cases in Oklahoma. Contact the Worden Law Firm today for your free consultation.