We all know that drinking and driving is a bad idea. But it happens sometimes. Here is what you need to know about contesting a DUI charge in Oklahoma City.
DUI: More Than Just Alcohol
Ingesting any intoxicant, whether alcohol or drugs, and driving can land a person into serious trouble. Any substance that impairs your ability to drive safely can lead to a DUI charge in Oklahoma City. Even over-the-counter cold medications can lead to a DUI if they impair your ability to drive.
How Much Does it Take?
In Oklahoma, it is against the law for a person to drive any motor vehicle:
- with a blood alcohol content level (BAC) of .08% or higher;
- under the influence of alcohol;
- with any amount of a Schedule I chemical or controlled substance in his or her system;
- under the influence of any intoxicating substance other than alcohol which renders that person incapable of safely driving or operating a motor vehicle; or
- under the combined influence of alcohol and another intoxicant which may render such person incapable of safely driving or operating a motor vehicle.
Okla. Stat. tit. 47 § 11-902
Note that under these laws, if you ingest any controlled substance and drive, you could be convicted of a DUI. So, if you take prescription pain medication such as Oxycontin, you could be convicted of a DUI if you drive. If you ingest even a small amount of marijuana and some alcohol, you could be convicted if your ability to drive is impaired.
Defenses to Explore With Your Attorney
If you are being charged with a DUI, make sure to hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible. There are defenses that may be available to you depending on your circumstances. The earlier you explore available defenses, the better able you will be to mount a strong defense. Here are some of the most common DUI defenses in Oklahoma City:
Faulty Testing Equipment: The chemical tests typically used to determine impairment can be faulty. Sometimes, the sample taken is contaminated. Other times, it may be lost before trial. Tests can be improperly administered. All of these possible problems should be reviewed by your attorney as soon as possible.
Improper Stop: An officer must have probable cause to pull you over. Without that, it may be that the stop was improper. If so, everything that flows from the improper stop must not be considered as evidence. In these cases, often the matter is dismissed by the court. Again, an experienced attorney will know whether your facts will support this defense.
BAC was at Legal Limit At The Time You Were Driving: It takes a while for alcohol to hit your system. If you ingest a drink and then immediately drive, your BAC level may be under the legal limit while you are actually driving, but over the limit when your test is administered later at the station. This is a highly technical defense.
Necessity: Sometimes, you have little choice. You have had wine with dinner and your child has an accident that requires a trip to the emergency room, so you get into the car and drive. Although, with the advent of Lyft and Uber, this defense is less accepted than it once was.
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence are Steep
A first DUI conviction is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
A second conviction within 10 years of the first makes that DUI chargeable as a felony. A second DUI is punishable by a prison term from one to five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Multiple convictions can be problematic, but unfortunately, they do happen. They can mean 480 hours of community service, prison time from 1 to 20 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or some combination of all of these penalties.
In addition, courts usually order that the defendant participates in a substance use and abuse assessment and evaluation. From that evaluation, the court may order a number of other actions such as attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or other substance abuse classes, anger management, counseling, and the like. The defendant must comply with all court orders. Diversion programs can help a defendant get the help they may need while avoiding prison time.
DUI convictions almost always involve a loss of the right to drive. This is an administrative matter, but can be difficult for most people. Your attorney may be able to persuade the court to allow limited driving privileges such as driving to and from work.
A DUI conviction is costly and can impinge on your freedom. If you are facing a conviction, talk to an Oklahoma City attorney to get the help you need.
Free Consultation: Oklahoma City Criminal Defense Attorney
Our lawyer is well positioned to advise you accordingly, as he has the necessary training and experience. He has the wit and tenacity to match the skill of the Oklahoma City prosecutors.
For a free consultation with an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney, call Wirth Law Office – Oklahoma City at 405-888-5400.
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