When most people throw around the phrase DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, they assume the acronym is the correct one and it’s pretty basic. This isn’t always the case, however. Many other people use DWI, or Driving While Impaired/Intoxicated, interchangeably with DUI, and refer to drinking and driving or using drugs and driving as all the same thing.
This can be dangerous and harmful to your case when dealing with Oklahoma law.
DUI and DWI can have different meanings in Oklahoma, and it’s not always clear what counts as a DUI or DWI. For example, is driving after you’ve taken a pill prescribed by your doctor against the law? This article will help decipher these questions and help you understand what to do if you’ve been charged with a similar crime in the state.
DUI vs. DWI
As mentioned at the outset, people often throw around the terms “DUI” and “DWI” loosely and assume they can be used interchangeably. There are differences, however.
Specifically, 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 intoxicating substance other than alcohol which may render such person incapable of safely driving or operating a motor vehicle”.
This “DUI” statute means that if you blow a blood alcohol content (BAC) 0.08 or above, you will be charged with a DUI. The statute does not include specific amounts of intoxicating substances must be in your system in order to be charged with a crime.
However, under 47 O.S. § 761 the state of Oklahoma prescribes a lesser BAC in order to be charged. This “DWI” statue says that if you blow between a 0.05 to 0.07 you may be charged with driving while “impaired”. Violation of this statute carries lighter penalties than the “DUI” statute discussed above.
But the question remains, what counts as either a DUI or DWI in Oklahoma?
What Substances Count as Driving While “Intoxicated”?
Many people assume that DUI or DWI laws are only associated with alcohol. However, as you will notice in the definition above, Oklahoma law defines these laws as the operation of a motor vehicle under the influence of “intoxicants”. Including alcohol, this can mean both illicit drugs or even prescription medications.
Most driving under the influence of illicit drug charges in Oklahoma involve drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy/molly, and methamphetamine. But drivers in the state can be charged if any trace of a Schedule I drug is found in their system.
In addition to illegal drugs, motorists may also face charges if they are deemed to be intoxicated by medically-prescribed medications. The most common of these drugs include, Xanax, Lortab, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and muscle relaxers. It’s also important to note that a driver may also be changed if they have consumed a significant amount of over-the-counter drugs, such as cough syrup, nighttime cold or flu medicine, or anything that may cause drowsiness or lightheadedness.
Although there is no formal distinction between DUI and DWI in Oklahoma, both can come with significant penalties and both are taken very seriously by law enforcement and prosecutors. However, every case is unique and it’s important to have an experienced and qualified attorney that knows the nuances of Oklahoma law review your case and ensure your best defense is put forward. If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence in Oklahoma, contact an expert attorney today.