It’s illegal in every state to drive under the influence, and Oklahoma is no exception. Sure, you may think that you can handle it, that you’ve driven drunk before and that you’re the exception to the rule, but every driver under the influence, no matter how experienced a drink or driver, is a danger to themselves and others when behind the wheel. If you’re driving under the influence in Oklahoma City, you’re not only risking an accident and injury, but arrests, fines, suspension of your driver’s license, and even jail time.
First, what exactly is a DUI?
Driving under the influence includes, but isn’t limited to “drunk driving.” In Oklahoma, someone is driving under the influence if:
- They’re over 21 and have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or more,
- They’re under the influence of a Schedule I drug, narcotic, or both alcohol and a Schedule I drug or narcotic, or
- They’re under 21 and have any alcohol or drug in their system.
What if you’re behind the wheel, but the car isn’t moving?
No dice. In Oklahoma, this is not a loop hole you can jump through. Oklahoma’s drunk driving laws state that you can’t “be in actual physical control” of a vehicle while intoxicated. This means that you can’t sit behind the wheel of a parked car with the keys in your hand or ignition if you’re intoxicated because you can cause the car to move as you choose, meaning that you have actual physical control of the vehicle.
This may not make sense on its face. After all, isn’t the law against driving under the influence? Drunk drivers may not always be arrested when they’re actually driving the car. They may have already moved from point A to point B but were intoxicated at the time. By making actual physical control while under the influence illegal, the state can exercise broader powers over drivers who may drink or use drugs.
What are the consequences of a conviction for DUI in Oklahoma?
DUI is a misdemeanor for the first offense. All others after that are felonies. The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is primarily that a misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail, while a felony is punishable by at least a year.
An arrest record. You will be brought to jail and your mug shot will be taken. You may have seen other people’s mug shots online. That could be you someday.
A criminal record. If you’re convicted of DUI, you’ll have at least a misdemeanor record. You may not be asked about your convictions on job applications, but they can hamper your ability to work, live, or volunteer in certain places for the rest of your life.
License restriction, suspension, or revocation. You may have your driver’s license restricted, suspended, or in some cases, revoked all together. Oklahoma shares driving records with almost every other state, so if your license is currently suspended or has been revoked in Oklahoma, you probably won’t be able to be licensed in another state.
Fines. Fines for DUI start at $1000 for the first offense, and if you don’t pay them, they collect interest. If you don’t pay your fines, you’ll not only owe the fines plus interest, you may be arrested and jailed.
Incarceration. The first offense, a misdemeanor, could get you ten days to a year in jail. Any other offenses within ten years of the first one are felonies, punishable by at least a year in prison, and up to 10 years for the second offense, and up to 20 for the third or more.
Probation. Probation keeps you out of prison, but you’re still required to stay completely sober, work, check in with your parole officer, and walk the line without so much as getting caught littering or you’ll go to jail.
Do you have to do a sobriety test if you’re pulled over?
In Oklahoma City, there is implied consent to sobriety tests, including field tests and breathalyzers. This means that by virtue of being licensed to drive on public roads, you have implied that you consent for the police to check your sobriety if they have reasonable suspicion that you’re under the influence.
What if you refuse to be tested?
You do have the right to refuse sobriety tests, and the police can’t force one on you. However, since you have already consented to the tests because you’re driving on the public roads (implied consent), refusing to let the police do a sobriety test means that the officer will immediately seizure driver’s license, and your license will be revoked within days. This can also be used against you as evidence if you’re tried in court for DUI.
Have you been arrested for DUI?
There are many defenses to DUI, and the particularly facts matter.