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In Oklahoma, if a person drinks alcohol and then drives a motor vehicle, he or she will run the risk of criminal liability under four different statutes. Each statute has its own nuances, and often times individuals find themselves wrongfully categorized; it takes an experienced Oklahoma criminal defense DUI attorney to realize the differences between each crime and force the prosecution to prove guilt. Below is a quick glance at the five most common “drunk driving” laws in Oklahoma:
An individual can be convicted for a DUI if he or she operates a motor vehicle upon public roads, highways, streets, turnpikes, other public places or upon any private road, street, alley or lane which provides access to one or more single or multi-family dwellings, and:
The first arrest for DUI will almost always be charged as a misdemeanor so long as no accident occurred. However, if the Defendant has prior convictions for DUI in a court of record, then he or she may be charged with felony DUI. Both misdemeanor and felony DUI can carry jail time, significant fines, driver’s license suspension, and other precautions such as interlock devices and electronic monitoring.
Liquor laws in Oklahoma are slightly different: the penalties for drinking and driving under the age of 21 are less severe than a regular DUI. A person under the age of 21 may be charged as such so long as the individual has a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of between .02 and .07. If this is the case, driving privileges may still be suspended, but the individual will most likely only face fines and community service. However, if the person’s BAC is .08 or over, the prosecutor may choose to charge the crime as a regular DUI.
In Oklahoma, an individual may be liable for aggravated DUI if he or she is caught driving with a BAC level of .15 or more. The label “aggravated DUI” can be misleading, however; whether one is charged with aggravated DUI or regular DUI has no impact on whether or not the charge will be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony. However, with the help of an experienced Oklahoma DUI attorney, it may be possible to convince the prosecution to amend a charge of aggravated DUI down to simple DUI. This is always preferable, as a conviction for aggravated DUI carries repercussions that are not mandatory for a simple DUI conviction.
An individual may be liable for DWI in Oklahoma when he or she is found to be driving an automobile with a BAC level of .06 or .07. Many individuals are easily misled by this law; even though the legal driving limit to safeguard against a conviction for DUI is a BAC of .08, one may still be criminally liable for driving with a BAC below that mark.
In order to more adequately enforce Oklahoma’s DUI laws, the Oklahoma legislature allowed for prosecution of individuals pursuant to having “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle while his or her BAC is above the legal limit. This charge is used by law enforcement to prosecute those individuals who are not caught actually driving. This situation usually arises when police discover an individual who is parked in a public area and who is subsequently found to have a BAC over the legal limit. Though the factual circumstances surrounding a charge of APC are usually different than those surrounding a charge of DUI, the resulting criminal and administrative liability is the same.
Furthermore, most individuals fail to realize that you drinking and driving also leads to civil penalties in Oklahoma as well.
A driver’s license is only good for 30 days after an arrest for drunk driving. After that 30 days, the driver’s license will be suspended. However, there is a 15-day window to request either a hearing on the status of the license or set an administrative hearing with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to challenge the suspension of the license. It usually takes DPS approximately 45-60 days to set a date for hearing or agree to a modified license; DPS will send a temporary driver’s license to use until a resolution has been reached.
Once DPS responds to the attorney’s request for either a modified license or an administrative hearing, the client will have a choice to make. An individual may either pay fines and install an interlock device for the suspension/revocation period and keep his or her license, or the Defendant may choose to challenge the suspension/revocation of his or her license through administrative proceedings. If the Defendant is not successful at the administrative hearing, he or she can still appeal the decision.
There have been a great deal of changes to the Oklahoma DUI laws over the years, so it is extremely important that you hire an experienced Oklahoma DUI attorney who is familiar with the new laws and the resulting consequences.
If you or a loved one has been charged with drunk driving in Oklahoma, time is of the essence. You need an experienced Oklahoma criminal defense attorney, and you need one right now. Call the Law Offices of Adam R. Banner, P.C., and retain an accomplished attorney ready to fight for your rights. Call us today at (405) 778-4800 for a free consultation.