COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT DUIS
March 12, 2021
You’ve just been charged with a DUI (driving under the influence) for the first time in Oklahoma, and you figure there’s nothing you can do but accept whatever penalties are handed down. Your license will be suspended, you’ll be fined, and maybe you’ll spend some time in jail regardless of what you do.
Not necessarily true on all counts. You have rights you can exercise, and even if your license is suspended, you can apply for a hardship license, which will allow you to commute to and from work.
If you’re facing a DUI charge in Shawnee, Chandler, or Norman, Oklahoma, or in the nearby communities, contact me at the Wilson Law Firm PLLC to discuss your situation and weigh your options. As your attorney, I will investigate the facts of your case and help you develop the best available defense for your DUI charge.
Common Misconceptions People Have About DUIs
A DUI charge isn’t worth fighting: Not true. Not every aspect of your potential penalties is cast in stone. Matters like fines, jail time, and suspension of your license can vary depending on the circumstances and how you present your defense. With skilled representation, you could even pursue a deferred or suspended sentence.
The charge is so common that it’s not serious: Again, not true. You can be deprived of your driving privileges for half a year just for a first offense, and you can spend time in jail and face hefty fines. A conviction also leaves you open to even more serious consequences if you’re pulled over again within the next 10 years.
You must submit to a field sobriety test: You can actually decline a breathalyzer test at the time of the arrest, but under the implied consent provision of Oklahoma law, you must then submit to a chemical test. If you don’t, you face having an interlocking ignition device placed on all of your vehicles — at your expense. Then, you won’t be able to drive until you pass a breath test to start the car. You can also still be charged with a DUI.
Your blood alcohol content has to be 0.08% or higher to be arrested: If your BAC is at or above 0.08%, that is all the arresting officer needs to charge you with a DUI, but even if it’s below that level, you can still be charged if the officer can provide supporting evidence, such as observing you driving in an impaired manner. You can also be charged under the lesser offense of driving while intoxicated (DWI).
You have to be driving the vehicle to be arrested: Oklahoma has a provision called “actual physical control,” which means you can be arrested for a DUI just by sitting in your vehicle with the keys in your possession. Mere possession of the car keys while intoxicated and inside your vehicle can be proof of APC in legal terms.
You have to be driving on a public roadway to be arrested: Oklahoma law includes not only public streets and highways but also private access roads to residences. You can be driving down the private road in your apartment complex and be arrested. Technically, you can even be arrested in your own driveway.
When I’m stopped, I have to answer all of the officers’ questions: Not true. You have the right to not say anything. The officers should warn you that “anything you say can and will be used against you.” Be aware, once you say something, it can come back to haunt you.
A DUI arrest record will disappear after seven years: Not in Oklahoma, where a DUI stays on your record for 10 years.
Penalties for a First-Time DUI
A first-offense DUI in Oklahoma is a misdemeanor, and a conviction carries the following penalties:
Minimum of 10 days to one year in jail
Fines of $500 to $1,000
License suspension of 30 to 180 days, though a hardship license can be applied for to allow commuting to and from work and other court-approved destinations
If breath & chemical tests are refused: License revoked for six months, followed by an 18-month ignition interlock device requirement
Ignition interlock: Required for 18 months on a first offense if your BAC is 0.15% or higher
These are state-mandated penalties. Municipalities can establish their own penalties. It all depends if your case is heard before a state court or a municipal court.
In addition to fines and potential jail time, a DUI conviction may result in mandatory drug/alcohol training, attendance at a Victim Impact Panel, AA meetings, regular BAC testing, probation, and completion of DUI School, though these are generally reserved for aggravated DUI charges and subsequent DUI incidents. (Note: Aggravated DUI applies when your BAC registers at 0.15% or higher.)
It’s also important to note that a DUI doesn’t have to arise only from alcohol consumption. The driving impairment that leads to your arrest can be due to the use of other banned and/or prescribed drugs, or a combination of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants.
Experienced DUI Attorney in Shawnee, Oklahoma
Facing a DUI charge is not a do-it-yourself undertaking. You need the help of an experienced DUI attorney who understands not only the law but the court system and its procedures. At Wilson Law Firm PLLC, I am committed to providing outstanding legal services and will provide you with dedicated representation as we develop your optimal legal defense.
I serve clients throughout the areas of Shawnee, Chandler, Norman, Okemah, and Ada, Oklahoma. Call me immediately if you face DUI charges, so we can schedule a one-on-one case evaluation.