Oklahoma is well-known for its strict DUI laws. And while some areas of the law offer 'breaks' for young offenders, drivers under the age of 21 shouldn't expect leniency when it comes to drinking and driving. In fact, Oklahoma has additional laws for underage drunk driving that are even stricter than standard DUI laws.
Drivers under the age of 21 can not only be arrested for violating standard Oklahoma DUI laws, they can also be subject to different punishments specifically for minor drivers who have lower levels of alcohol in their system. The consequences for a conviction for underage DUI are serious and can continue to affect you for the rest of your life. If you are facing charges of underage DUI in Oklahoma, let the experienced DUI defense attorneys with the Worden Law Firm help you defend yourself.
Oklahoma Underage Driving Under the Influence
Oklahoma has adopted zero tolerance laws when it comes to underage drinking and driving. According to Oklahoma law, it is unlawful for anyone under the age of 21 to drive, operate, or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, who:
- Has any measurable quantity of alcohol in the person's blood or breath at the time of a test administered within two (2) hours after an arrest of the person;
- Exhibits evidence of being under the influence of any other intoxicating substance as shown by analysis of a specimen of the person's blood, breath, saliva, or urine in accordance with the provisions of Sections 752 and 759 of this title; or
- Exhibits evidence of the combined influence of alcohol and any other intoxicating substance.
In other words, a driver under the age of 21 will be found guilty of underage DUI if he or she has any measurable result from a blood alcohol concentration test. A measurable quantity of alcohol under Oklahoma law is a BAC above 0.00.
It is important to understand that underage DUI laws do not absolve minors or underage drivers from the consequences of a standard DUI conviction. A driver under the age of 21 with a BAC of .08 or above will be charged with a standard DUI, just like anyone else would face. The difference is found with drivers operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of more than 0.00 but less than .079. While a person 21 or older might avoid charges in the circumstance, a person under the age of 21 can expect to be charged with underage DUI.
Penalties for Underage DUI in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, an underage DUI conviction does not carry the risk of jail time. Despite that, a conviction can cost you your driver's license and require you to perform hundreds of hours of community service. Additionally, an under-21 driver will face an additional license suspension if they are found to have alcohol in their possession at the time they are pulled over.
A conviction for underage DUI will prompt the Oklahoma Department of Motor Vehicles to first cancel a driver's license, and then, suspend their right to drive. At the end of the suspension period, the driver can request a conditional driver's license. This license allows a driver to go to school or work, but the driver must install and use an ignition interlock device. An ignition interlock device, or IID, is a mechanism that attaches to a vehicle's ignition. The driver must blow into the IID and register a 0.00 BAC before the vehicle will start. These devices are designed to keep drivers under the influence of alcohol off the road.
1st Offense Underage DUI
An under-21 driver convicted of underage DUI for the 1st time will face a variety of consequences. His or her driver's license will be suspended for six months upon conviction. A conviction may also lead to a fine of up to $500, which is at the discretion of the judge. Additionally, upon conviction of underage DUI, an individual will be required to complete 20 hours of community service.
2nd Under-21 DUI Charge
For a second conviction for underage DUI, the driver faces even harsher penalties. The driver will have their driving privileges revoked for at least one year. Once their ability to drive is restored, they will be required to maintain an IID in their vehicle for at least one month. They will also have to pay a fine of up to $1,000 and perform up to 240 hours of community service.
3rd or Subsequent Underage DUI Conviction
A third conviction for underage DUI has the harshest penalties. The state's intent is to pressure repeat offenders to alter their behavior and to keep drunken drivers off the road. A third conviction for underage DUI can lead to a 3-year suspension of an individual's driving privileges. Like with a second offense, a third offense will require the installation of an IID once driving privileges are restored. A third conviction will also lead to a maximum fine of $2,000. Finally, the third conviction for underage DUI allows the judge to assign up to 480 hours of community service.
Experienced Oklahoma Underage DUI Defense Attorney
Whether it is a standard DUI or an underage DUI, the consequences for alcohol-related driving offenses in Oklahoma carry severe penalties. In addition to the penalties discussed above, a minor convicted of underage DUI may face trouble obtaining employment or housing for years to come. The use of background checks during employment or housing decisions has become commonplace, and a single mistake can cause a person years of hardship.
The truth about these cases is that even zero tolerance underage DUIs can be defensible. Each case is different, but an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to lower a charge or even dismiss the charges completely. Your best chance of getting a positive outcome is by hiring an experienced DUI defense attorney.
If you or a loved one have been charged with underage DUI in Oklahoma, the experienced defense attorneys at the Worden Law Firm can help. They understand what is at stake, and are ready to be the fierce advocate you need. If you would like to discuss your case with experienced Oklahoma DUI defense attorneys, contact the Worden Law Firm today for your free consultation.