If you drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs in Oklahoma, you might expect that you could be arrested and charged with the crime of driving under the influence (DUI). What you may not know is that you could be charged with a crime if you’re in your vehicle while intoxicated – even if you aren’t actually operating it.
This crime is known as actual physical control (APC). Under Oklahoma law, it is a crime to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and to either have “actual physical control” of a vehicle or the ability to operate a vehicle. The penalties for an APC charge in OK are the same as for a DUI – including jail time, a license suspension, and steep fines.
If you have been charged with APC in Oklahoma City or the surrounding areas, you will need an aggressive Oklahoma City drunk driving attorney to represent you. Attorney Angela Singleton has extensive experience representing clients facing allegations of actual physical control and other offenses. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation with our law office.
What Is an Actual Physical Control Charge?
Oklahoma’s DUI laws provide that it is against the law for any person to drive, operate, or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence, whether on a public road or highway or a private street, alley, or lane that provides access to one or more residential dwellings. Under this law, the state doesn’t have to prove that you drove your car while drunk. It is enough to show that you were drunk inside of your car and had “actual physical control” in some way.
These cases are based on a theory that even if an individual isn’t currently driving their vehicle while intoxicated, they could have done so – which presents a danger to the public. Courts have upheld APC charges in OK when a defendant:
- Slept in the driver’s seat of his vehicle while intoxicated;
- Exited the vehicle on the driver’s side; and
- Was unconscious behind the steering wheel with the engine of the car running.
In other words, if you are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and have the ability to operate your motor vehicle, you can be charged with a crime…even if you never actually drive.
To prove an actual physical control charge in OKC, a prosecutor must demonstrate that you:
- Had actual physical control of a motor vehicle;
- If you were on a public roadway or a private street or lane that provides access to one or more single or multi-family dwellings; and
- Had a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more, or were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs to the point that you were unable to safely drive a motor vehicle.
For example, if you leave a bar, get into your vehicle that is parked on the street, and promptly go to sleep in the front seat, you could potentially be charged with APC under Oklahoma law. Because the penalties for actual physical control are just as harsh as those for a DUI, it is vital that you reach out to a skilled Oklahoma City DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible after being arrested for APC.
Penalties for an APC Conviction
In Oklahoma, an APC charge is treated the same as a DUI for purposes of sentencing. The severity of the penalties is based in part on whether it is a first or greater offense. For sentencing purposes, there is a 10-year “lookback” period for DUI-related offenses (including APC).
For a first time APC conviction, you may be sentenced to:
- Between 10 days and 1 year in jail;
- A fine of up to $1,000; and
- Driver’s license suspension for 30 to 180 days.
For a second offense within 10 years, you may be sentenced to:
- A minimum of 1 year and up to 5 years in jail;
- A fine of up to $2,500; and
- A 1-year license suspension.
A third offense may lead to an even harsher sentence of up to 10 years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and an 8-year license suspension.
Just like with a DUI, if you are charged with APC, then the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety will administratively suspend your driver’s license – even before your criminal case has been resolved. The only way to avoid this consequence is to contact the DPS within 15 days of being arrested to schedule an administrative hearing. If you fail to do so, then your license will automatically be suspended pending the outcome of the criminal case.
Because it can lead to a driver’s license suspension, being convicted of an actual physical control charge in OKC can have a major impact on your life – and your job. For this reason, it is important that you schedule a free consultation with a seasoned criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after being arrested for APC.
Are There Any Defenses to an APC Charge in OK?
There are a number of possible defenses to an actual physical control charge in OKC. For example, if the police failed to follow proper procedures when taking your breath or blood sample, your attorney may be able to get the results of that test thrown out of court. Similarly, if you aren’t actually under the influence as defined by OK law, then that may be a defense to the charge against you.
The specific defense for an APC charge will depend on the facts of your case. If you have been charged with APC, call Angela Singleton to schedule a free case evaluation with an OKC DUI defense attorney.
Is Actual Physical Control a Felony or a Misdemeanor Charge?
In Oklahoma, APC is charged under the same statute as a DUI. As such, APC could be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the facts of your case. A first offense APC will be a misdemeanor, while a second or greater APC charge within a 10 year period will be charged as a felony.
Both misdemeanor and felony APC convictions carry serious consequences, including jail time and the loss of your driving privileges. Reach out to Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Angela Singleton today to learn more about how our law firm can protect your rights after an APC charge.
I Have a Prior DUI Conviction. Will That Make My APC Charge a Second Offense?
If your prior DUI conviction was within 10 years of your current actual physical control charge, then it will be considered a second offense. In Oklahoma, there is a 10 year lookback period for DUI offenses. If you have a prior conviction for DUI or APC in Oklahoma or another state within the past 10 years, then a new charge for DUI or APC will be considered a second (or greater) offense.
The laws surrounding the lookback period can be complicated. If you are being charged with felony APC, an experienced Oklahoma DUI defense attorney can examine the facts of your case and any prior conviction to put together a strong defense. Contact Angela Singleton today to schedule a free initial consultation.
Facing an APC Charge in OK? We Can Help.
Simply being in your vehicle after drinking or using drugs might not seem like a big deal – but it can lead to a criminal charge, just as if you drove drunk. If you have been charged with actual physical control in Oklahoma, our law firm will fight for your rights.
Attorney Angela Singleton has more than a decade of experience representing clients who have been charged with all types of criminal offenses in and around Oklahoma City. For each client, she works hard to help them achieve the best possible outcome. If you have been charged with actual physical control, give our office a call at 405-510-0345 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with Ms. Singleton.