If you have recently been charged with a DUI, it's possible this is your first serious run-in with law enforcement. You certainly didn't intend to put your career, your finances, and even your liberty into jeopardy. The Worden Law Firm understands how daunting this process can be. We are ready to help guide you through the criminal justice system and ensure you are treated fairly.
DUI Offenses in Oklahoma
Oklahoma law considers any of the following behaviors as driving under the influence:
- 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 system; or
- Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that it renders you incapable of driving safely.
This gives prosecutors multiple ways to establish that you were intoxicated at the time you operated a motor vehicle. The first two options are somewhat objective, in that they rely on measurements of chemicals within your body. The third, however, is entirely subjective and based on the opinion of law enforcement officers, not doctors.
In fact, it's possible to get a DUI even when you're not driving a vehicle. Oklahoma law only requires that you be in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while intoxicated. Obviously, that can include driving a vehicle, but it can also be satisfied by simply having physical control over a parked car. For example, if you are intoxicated in a parked car with the keys in the ignition, you could be arrested for DUI.
The penalties for DUI in Oklahoma are tied to the number of prior convictions you have had in the last ten years. Oklahoma's DUI laws are tougher than most states'; you can face felony charges for a second DUI in a ten-year period.
First DUI Offense
In Oklahoma, your first offense DUI is considered a misdemeanor. If convicted, you face a minimum term of ten days and a maximum term of 1 year. The fines for a first offense DUI are between $500 and $1,000. You driver's license will also go into suspension for 30 to 180 days. Additionally, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle if your BAC was .15 or higher.
Second DUI Offense
You'll face felony charges if you are arrested for your second DUI within 10-years of your first DUI. A conviction for a second DUI carries a prison term between 1 and 5 years, as well as a maximum fine of $2,500. You'll face a suspension of your driver's license for 6 months to 1 year after a second DUI conviction. And you'll be required to install an ignition interlock device for 4 years or until your license is fully reinstated, whichever is longer.
Third and Subsequent DUI Offenses
A third or subsequent DUI conviction is also a felony under Oklahoma law. A third offense carries a minimum sentence of 1 year and a maximum of 7 years in state prison. It also includes a maximum fine of $5,000 plus court costs. After your release, you could be required to do as much as 240 hours of community service. A conviction will also lead to a license suspension of 1 to 3 years, as well as a minimum of five years with an interlock device.
DUI vs. DWI in Oklahoma
In many states, DUI and DWI are used interchangeably. That is not the case in Oklahoma. DWI stands for "driving while impaired" under Oklahoma law. DWI is a separate, lesser offense compared to DUI. The difference relates entirely to your BAC. While a BAC of .08 or more creates a presumption that you were intoxicated, a BAC reading between .051 and .079 does not. However, with additional evidence, the state can charge you with DWI. A conviction can result in a fine of up to $500 and a jail sentence of up to six months. A DWI can also lead to a driver's license suspension, but a suspension isn't triggered at the time of your arrest, like with a DUI.
DUI-Drugs Charges in Oklahoma
You can be charged for a DUI for more than just alcohol. If law enforcement believes a controlled substance is affecting your ability to drive, you can be charged with a DUI. In fact, you can be convicted if a prosecutor can show you had a schedule I drug in your system at the time you were driving. Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, and, surprisingly, marijuana.
DUI and Underage Drivers
Oklahoma has a zero-tolerance rule for anyone under the age of 21 consuming alcohol and driving. Minor drivers can still be charged with DUI if their BAC is above the legal limit. However, if a minor registers a BAC level above 0.0% but below 0.08% they will still face consequences. A first offense will cause a minor to have their license revoked for six months, face a maximum fine of $500, and have to perform up to 20 hours of community service. A second offense will lead to a 1-year license revocation, a maximum fine of $1,000, and up to 240 hours of community service. A third offense will lead to a 3-year revocation, a maximum fine of $2,000, and up to 480 hours of community service.
DUI and CDL Drivers
While the legal BAC limit for most drivers is .08%, it is illegal to operate a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04% or higher. Under Oklahoma law, commercial drivers give their consent to blood or breath tests when they operate a commercial vehicle. A commercial driver can be arrested for DUI for a BAC of .04% or for simply refusing a blood or breath test.
Commercial drivers face other problems related to drinking and driving; a DUI will result in a 1-year suspension of a CDL. A second offense results in a lifetime suspension. It's worth noting that this strict rule is not limited to when a driver is operating a commercial vehicle. That means that if a CDL driver is arrested for a DUI in his personal vehicle, he will also face a CDL suspension.
A commercial driver may also face steeper penalties if they were hauling hazardous waste. A driver arrested for DUI while hauling hazardous waste will face a minimum 3-year CDL suspension on their first offense and a lifetime suspension on their second.
Defenses to a DUI Charge
There are a number of potential defenses to a DUI charge. However, the two most frequently used defenses include:
Challenges to the Traffic Stop
A traffic stop must be lawful for any evidence recovered during the stop to be used in court. An illegal traffic stop can cause everything from admissions to BAC test results to be ruled as inadmissible.
Challenges to the Test
Even if the stop was legal, an experienced attorney may be able to show a jury that you were not actually intoxicated or that the state did not follow proper procedure when testing your breath, blood or urine.
Contact an Experienced Oklahoma DUI Defense Lawyer
The Worden Law Firm constantly strives to provide their clients with the best defense possible. The experienced attorneys at the Worden Law Firm understand how important your case is and can give it the attention it deserves. Contact the Worden Law Firm today for your free consultation.