DUI 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 which 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 a 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.
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.
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.
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.