What Constitutes a DUI in Oklahoma?
If you’re pulled over and take a field sobriety test using a breathalyzer and your blood alcohol content is 0.08% or higher, you’re presumed to be intoxicated and will be charged with a DUI. If your BAC is 0.05% or lower, you’re presumed not to be intoxicated. However, if your level is 0.06% or 0.07%, and the arresting officer can point to additional evidence, you can still be charged with a DUI. To be valid, the test must be administered within two hours of your arrest.
Other factors that can lead to a DUI are:
- Having any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance found in your blood, saliva, urine, or other bodily fluid within two hours of your arrest
- Being under the influence of any intoxicating substance other than alcohol that may render you incapable of safely operating a vehicle
- Being under the influence of a combination of alcohol and/or other intoxicating substances that render you incapable of driving safely
Note: Even lawfully prescribed medications that lead to your incapacity to operate or drive a vehicle safely can result in a DUI.
While most arrests will occur on highways or public streets, Oklahoma law also covers private access roads that lead to single or multiple residences. You could literally be arrested in your own driveway or on a private road leading to your apartment.
You don’t even have to be operating or driving a vehicle to be charged with a DUI. Under a state legal standard known as “actual physical control,” you can be charged with a DUI for just sitting in your car and trying to “sleeping it off,” provided you have the keys in your possession and could start and drive the car at any moment.
Submitting to Roadside Sobriety Tests
You can refuse a breathalyzer test when you’re stopped, but under the implied consent provision of Oklahoma driving regulations, you must then agree to a chemical test. If you refuse that option, then your refusal can lead to an automatic DUI charge. You will have your driver’s license suspended for a minimum of 180 days, and you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on every vehicle you own. The IID, which stops you from operating the vehicle if a certain amount of alcohol is detected on your breath, can be mandated for up to five years after your suspension ends.
In practical terms, roadside breathalyzer test results can be challenged in court for their accuracy. If you do refuse but then submit to the chemical test, by the time they administer it, your BAC may have fallen or they may have breached the two-hour window to administer the test.
Penalties for a first-time DUI offense can vary a bit depending on whether you end up in a state court or a local court, as municipalities can maintain different penalty standards. A state DUI conviction for a misdemeanor first offense can result in:
- Jail time of 10 days to one year
- A fine 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
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for 18 months if your BAC is 0.15% or higher (aggravated DUI)
You should note here that there are two phases to a DUI charge: the criminal proceedings that can land you in court, and a civil proceeding involving the Department of Public Safety (DPS). After your arrest, you have 15 days to appeal to the DPS for a hearing on your license. If you do not appeal, your license will be automatically revoked for no less than 180 days.
Why Having an Attorney is Important
A DUI is no slam dunk, slap-on-the-wrist charge. If you try to go it alone during the criminal proceedings, you can end up landing on the higher end of the penalty spectrum, when a proper defense might have lessened the results or possibly resulted in the charges being dropped. There are no guarantees for what a judge or jury may decide, but there are motions and other actions that can potentially work in your favor.
An experienced DUI defense attorney can move for dismissal based on inaccurate test results, for no probable cause for the traffic stop, or even for an allegedly illegal traffic stop. You need a skilled lawyer on your side to investigate your case and come up with a defense strategy with the best chance of a favorable outcome.