Jacqui Ford has represented dozens of Oklahoma citizens facing charges for driving under the influence, or DUIs. In the best case scenario, these clients are able to get off with probation, a restricted license, and a small fine.
But when tragedy strikes, the consequences for driving under the influence can be much steeper. In 2018 alone, 145 Oklahomans were killed by alcohol-impaired drivers– higher than the national average.
If your Oklahoma DUI results in a death, you could be facing felony charges up to second-degree murder. Luckily, all hope is not lost. Experienced DUI attorneys like those at Jacqui Ford Law can help you build a defense and demonstrate to the court that you are driving more responsibly in exchange for a less severe sentence.
Below, our team has put together a rundown of everything you need to know when a DUI becomes more than just a DUI.
DUIs in Oklahoma
Under 47 O.S. § 11-902 of Oklahoma law, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, or under the influence of any other intoxicating substance that may impair your ability to drive.
You may be charged with a DUI if any of these three things are true:
- You’re over 21 and have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or more
- You’re under the influence of a Schedule I drug, narcotic, or both alcohol and a Schedule I drug or narcotic
- You’re under 21 and have any alcohol or drug in your system at all
The .08 limit applies to DUIs, but you can actually be charged with a DWI if your BAC is above .05. DWI stands for driving while impaired, and carries lighter penalties than a DUI.
A first-offense DUI is a misdemeanor, and can result in a suspended or restricted license, up to $1,000 in fines, and up to a year in jail. Any DUI conviction after that is considered a felony, and will result in harsher sentences and stricter fines.
Higher charges when DUIs lead to death
A regular DUI or DWI charge usually results when you’re pulled over for intoxicated driving, or involved in an unserious accident. However, when someone is seriously injured or killed because of your intoxicated driving, you could be facing some serious felony charges.
Here are 4 of the charges you might face in Oklahoma if your DUI results in a death:
- Negligent homicide occurs when the defendant is driving in reckless disregard for the safety of others, and that reckless driving results in someone else’s death. A first-time negligent homicide offense, like a DUI, is a misdemeanor, which means it can only result in up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
- Second-degree manslaughter occurs when an unlawful death is caused by the defendant’s culpable negligence. As a felony, second-degree manslaughter is a more serious charge than negligent homicide, and can result in 2-4 years in prison and a $1,000 fine.
- First-degree manslaughter occurs when a death is the direct result of the defendant committing a misdemeanor. It is much more serious than either of the previous two crimes, and is punishable by a minimum of four years in prison.
- Second-degree murder occurs when the defendant unintentionally caused someone else’s death while acting with a “depraved mind” in “extreme disregard for human life.” In the case of a DUI, driving under the influence in a dangerous manner could be considered acting in extreme disregard for human life. This felony is punishable by a minimum of ten years and up to life in prison.
Which of these crimes you’re charged with, if any, will depend on the circumstances of your accident and probably your level of intoxication.
What to do if you’re charged with a DUI, or something worse
As you can see, being charged for a DUI-related death can result in serious consequences. There are certain things you can do to learn from this experience and prevent a conviction from derailing the rest of your life.
The most important step you need to take after being charged with DUI-related murder or manslaughter is to contact a criminal defense attorney with experience representing people charged with both murder and DUIs. At Jacqui Ford Law, our attorneys know how to mediate between you and the court to help reduce your sentence, or even have the conviction reduced to a less serious crime.
Contact Jacqui Ford Law about your DUI charge today
Don’t let the severity of the US legal system prevent you from learning from your mistakes and moving on with your life. Contact Jacqui Ford Law today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case.