Attorney Angela Singleton - Oklahoma City Criminal Defense

DUI Charges in Oklahoma: What You Need To Know

Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) in the state of Oklahoma comes with serious consequences. According to Oklahoma DUI laws, you are legally considered intoxicated when your blood alcohol content (BAC) is at 0.08%. You must be driving on a public roadway while under the influence to be charged with a DUI. There are a few things that need to be broken down. Many times, people hear roadway and think they must be driving on a city street or highway to be charged with a DUI. That’s not necessarily the case. For DUI purposes, the roadway in Oklahoma is defined as those typical city streets and highways, but it also can be driveways leading up to your home or parking lots, places you wouldn’t think of as being on a public roadway, but in fact, you can still be charged with DUI there. The other element that causes some confusion is under the influence. Most people think this refers to alcohol, but it can also mean drugs.

You can also be charged under the influence of a drug. That can be either an illegal drug, or it could be a prescription drug. A lot of times, people get confused with prescription drugs, because you can be charged with DUI under the influence of a prescription drug even if you have a prescription for that drug. An officer can stop you based on a variety of reasons, and if they feel that you may be unsafe to drive, even though you are taking your own prescription medication, they can charge you with driving under the influence.

In the DUI statute, under Oklahoma law, there is something called Actual Physical Control (APC). This has the same penalties as driving under the influence charge, but this is charged when you are in control of your vehicle, but not driving it. For example, you are simply sitting in your vehicle in a parking lot and the engine’s not running, but you have the keys in your pocket. A lot of people think they are doing the right thing, they are sitting in their car and waiting for a ride or “sleeping it off.” But if law enforcement finds you in this situation, they can charge you with APC and that charge carries the same consequences as the DUI charge.

What Generally Happens At The Scene Of A Drunk Driving Accident?

Under Oklahoma law, no police officer can arrest you for a misdemeanor unless that misdemeanor happens in his presence. There are exceptions to that rule and one of the exceptions is an accident in which DUI is suspected. You may be placed under arrest if an officer believes that you have been involved in an accident as a result of the DUI. Now, whenever they get to the scene, they’re going to investigate just as they would in a typical traffic stop. They’re going to look for their typical signs of intoxication. They may or may not perform the roadside tests, the standard field sobriety tests. But the officer is going to gather any evidence available until they believe they have probable cause to make an arrest for DUI.

Why Should Someone Not Plead Guilty To A DUI Charge?

The main reason that you don’t want to just plead quickly is first, it doesn’t give an attorney anytime to negotiate the case for you. If you want to resolve the criminal case in a plea agreement, then an attorney can come in and try to negotiate a deal that’s going to work better for you than the one that the prosecutor is offering you from the outset. Many times, they have in their offers a little wiggle room built in just for the negotiation process. So if you are just taking the first thing that comes across your desk, so to speak, then you may not be getting the best deal that you could get.

The other issue comes from the fact that there may have been something wrong with your case—there may be something the police did wrong, there may be some action by police that an attorney can identify that can make your case resolve without you being convicted or even result in your case being dismissed. There are motions that could be filed based, perhaps, on how the officer conducted the traffic stop, or how evidence was gathered. You won’t know that if you just take the first deal that’s offered, instead of getting time to get an attorney, who can get the police reports and go through all the evidence and see if maybe there are other ways that the case can be resolved.

Can An Attorney Get Me Out Immediately?

An attorney can’t get you out of jail immediately if you are facing criminal charges. Your bondsman is the best bet for that. What an experienced criminal attorney can do immediately is start working to protect your rights. Your attorney can be at the arraignment with you when the judge actually sets the bond. There are standard bonds for whenever you’re arrested, but the judge essentially makes the official bond. An attorney can be present during that time and can ask for a lower bond on your behalf. They can also start protecting your rights with regard to your driver’s license and ensure that your ability to drive in the future is protected.

What Is The Implied Consent Law In Oklahoma?

Implied consent is pretty straightforward in Oklahoma. It’s the law that says that if you’re driving on a public roadway, then you are consenting to a blood alcohol test. If you refuse that test, then your driver’s license will be suspended.

Can The Driver Refuse A Breath Or Blood Test In The Event Of A Drunk Driving Accident?

The only time that a driver cannot refuse a test is when a drunk driving accident results in great bodily injury or death, then the statute requires an automatic blood test.

What if I refuse a Breathalyzer or Blood Test in Oklahoma?

If you refuse to take either a breath or blood test, it’s treated as if you had a positive breath or blood test. The officer will take your driver’s license, he’ll give you what’s called an Officer’s Affidavit that indicates that you’ve refused to take the test, and that will be reported to the Department of Public Safety, who is the administration that issues driver’s licenses. What they do is within 30 days, unless you request a hearing from them, your license will be suspended for at least 6 months. In Oklahoma, it’s typically better to take the breath test, and then if you would like to request a blood test at your own expense, you can. Refusing will be treated as if you were over the legal limit even if you weren’t.

The other thing that people don’t realize, is that a prosecutor can use a refusal against you. A lot of people assume that it goes under your right to remain silent, but the way Oklahoma law is, a prosecutor can argue to a judge or argue to a jury that you’ve refused because you knew you were intoxicated, and that’s why you didn’t take the test. It can be used against you in several ways. Under Oklahoma law, it’s usually your better bet to go ahead and take the breath test and request the blood test at your own expense.

Can I Consult With An Attorney Prior To Making A Decision On Chemical Test In Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, you cannot contact an attorney before you decide whether or not you’re going to take the state’s tests. That should be explained to you when they read you the implied consent law before asking whether or not you’ll take the test. There are also some instances when you don’t have a choice in the matter. For example, if you’re involved in an accident that involves serious injury or death, they are going to give you the test whether or not you give consent.

Are Blood Tests Automatically Administered If The Driver Is Unconscious After An Accident?

Under implied consent, an officer can’t do any sort of testing without having read you the implied consent and gotten some sort of a reply from you. That can be either a verbal reply or a non-verbal nod. You have to indicate to them whether or not you are going to take the test. If somebody is unconscious, then they cannot consent or refuse to test. Unless we’re in the situation because there’s been an accident with serious bodily injury or death where an automatic blood draw occurs by law, then law enforcement needs to get some reply from you before ant test can be performed.

What Happens If Someone Suffers Bodily Injury As A Result Of a Drunk Driving Accident?

There is a specific charge for DUI with great bodily injury as a result of a drunk driving accident, and that is a felony charge which can result in a sentence up to 20 years in prison. A drunk driving accident that results in the death of a person can result in a manslaughter charge that carries up to life in prison.

Can Enhanced Or Aggravated DUI Charges Ever Be Reduced In Oklahoma?

Typically, enhanced (felony) or aggravated DUI charges are not reduced in Oklahoma. What is available whenever some serious charge is filed is what we call a Deferred Sentence. A prosecutor may agree to set off sentencing for a period and let you do certain things that have been agreed to, such as probation, treatment, or community service; then at the end of the period, the case would be dismissed. However, a reduced charge is something that can be negotiated. And since every case and person is different, it may be something that could be worked out by an Oklahoma DUI lawyer who understands your needs.

Is it barred from being reduced down to a misdemeanor or some other charge? The answer is not no, but in my experience it is rare. However, it is not outside the realm of possibility. Every case and every person is different. Your circumstances may merit having your case reduced to a misdemeanor. The key is hiring an attorney who will represent your individual needs.

When Do Miranda Rights Come Into Play In A DUI Case?

To be clear, you always have the right to remain silent and you should never give a statement to the police. Now, Miranda is something that’s very specific. Miranda is specific to in-custody interrogation by law enforcement. So if you are in custody, officers are required to explain your rights to you and ask you if you waive those rights. If they fail to do that, then anything that you say to them can be kept out of your case. But your best course of action is to simply tell them that you will not give a statement and that you want to have an attorney with you.

Why Are The Days Following A DUI Arrest Critical For Someone’s Driver’s License?

What’s important to know (and what an officer should tell you) is that once the officer signs that affidavit saying that you either took the test or didn’t take the test, you have 15 days from that date to request a hearing from the Department of Public Safety regarding your right to drive. If you miss that 15-day period, you do not have another opportunity to request that hearing. So, you need to have that knowledge and make sure that you’re in contact with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your driving rights are protected.

What Does Someone Leave The Jail With In Terms Of Paperwork After Being Released On Bail?

If you have a bondsman, they should provide you with some information regarding your bond, how much you owe them, and your court date. The jail should also release you with paperwork that has your court date on it. Once you’re released, it’s important that you keep every single piece of paper that you’re given so that you know where you need to go for court. If you had anything on your person that was taken when you were taken into custody, you’ll want to have receipts for those items. Lastly, if your car was impounded as a result of your DUI arrest, they should give you the information about where your vehicle is and how you can get that released from impound. The longer your car stays impounded, the more money it’s going to cost you.

How Can Pretrial Counseling Or Treatment Programs Impact a DUI Case?

Getting counseling, or going to AA or NA meetings can usually only help you. I typically have my clients start doing that before their very first court date. It’s not going to hurt you in any way. If you decide that that’s not information you want to share with the prosecutor, then that information can stay between you and your attorney. However, if you decide that you want to negotiate your case, it gives you some leverage. It gives you something to take to the prosecutor and say, “Look, we are doing counseling, we are doing AA, we want to resolve this in the best way possible.” So, it gives you the power to negotiate a better outcome.

What are the Penalties for an Oklahoma DUI?

Your first time DUI is going to be charged as a misdemeanor in state court. That carries a minimum of 10 days, and up to a year in county jail. Now, if you get another DUI within a 10-year period that automatically gets bumped to a felony charge. That felony charge can be enhanced, even if you work out some sort of plea deal on your misdemeanor that resulted in maybe probation but not a conviction, the state court can still use that in the next 10 years to enhance you up to a felony. On a first-time felony DUI, you are looking at 1 to 5 years in the Department of Corrections. If you get a second felony DUI within that 10-year period, you are looking at 1 to 10, and then a third one maxes it out at 1 to 20 years in the Department of Corrections.

How Do You Console Clients That Feel Hopeless Due To This Dire Situation?

What I tell everybody who is facing criminal charges is there is no situation that is hopeless. There are always things that we can do, whether it be getting ahead of an issue or a problem and presenting that to the prosecutor or fighting legal issues. There are always places in which a defense attorney can help you and find hope in your situation. No situation is hopeless, whether it be a DUI, a traffic ticket or a first-degree murder. There are always things that a defense attorney can do to fight for you.

For more information on DUI Charges In Oklahoma, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 510-0345 today.