Flashing blue lights in the rearview mirror can make anyone nervous, but if you have been drinking prior to the traffic stop, you know that more than a traffic ticket is at stake. An arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can lead to driver’s license suspension, fines, jail, probation, and a criminal record that can complicate your professional opportunities or student status. If you are arrested for DUI or other alcohol-related driving offense, act quickly to retain an experienced DUI lawyer who can handle your defense for a positive result. Through innovative defense strategies and a commitment to providing quality legal representation, attorney Ryan Coventon has helped DUI defendants across Oklahoma to keep their driving privileges and stay out of jail.

Drug and Alcohol Related Driving Offenses

Oklahoma law penalizes drivers for driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Though DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, is commonly referred to as “drunk driving,” in many cases, a driver arrested for DUI may be impaired by illegal drugs or prescription medications. While there are certainly drivers whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) far exceeds the legal limit of 0.08 percent, many drivers convicted of alcohol-related driving offenses are “buzzed” rather than drunk, not realizing that their BAC is high enough to be arrested for DUI. In fact, in Oklahoma, a driver can be arrested and convicted with a BAC below 0.08 percent under certain circumstances.

There are three primary alcohol-related driving offenses with which a person may be charged in Oklahoma:

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – DUI is perhaps the most common and the most widely known alcohol related driving offense. In most cases, DUI occurs when a driver is determined to be operating a vehicle while having a BAC of 0.08 percent or greater. However, commercial drivers can be charged with DUI with a BAC as low as 0.04 percent, and drivers under the age of 21 can be charged with a BAC of only 0.02 percent.
  • Driving While Impaired (DWI) – In Oklahoma, a driver can be charged with DWI if he or she has a BAC as low as 0.06 or 0.07 percent. In this case, a driver may show signs of impairment by drugs or alcohol, but does not have a BAC high enough to be charged with Driving Under the Influence.
  • Actual Physical Control (APC) – A person can be arrested for APC even though he or she may not actually guilty of driving after drinking. Instead, APC is charged if a driver is intoxicated with a BAC of 0.08 percent or greater and is in a position to control a motor vehicle. For example, if a person has the keys to the vehicle and is in the driver’s seat, he or she can be charged with APC even if the car is turned off or idling. APC carries the same legal and administrative penalties as DUI. For this reason, intoxicated people who are waiting for a sober ride home are advised to wait inside a building rather than their cars or to distance themselves from their keys and not sit in the driver’s seat.

Oklahoma operates under Implied Consent, meaning that anyone who drives in the state has implicitly provided his or her consent to sobriety testing. Refusal to submit to a breathalyzer or chemical blood analysis test following a DUI arrest will result in driver’s license suspension, even if the driver’s DUI case is dismissed or if the driver is acquitted of the crime. However, the post-arrest testing is separate from the roadside, portable breath test that may be offered or the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests a driver may be asked to perform. These tests are voluntary and often used to determine reasonable cause for your arrest.

DUI Penalties in Oklahoma

DUI is subject to criminal penalties as well as administrative penalties. If you have been arrested for DUI, it is important to act quickly in hiring a DUI lawyer to handle your defense. You have only fifteen (15) days from your arrest to request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to keep your license. If you do not properly request a hearing in the short time allotted, your license will be suspended pending the outcome of your case. Your attorney can request the hearing for you and represent you to help protect your driving privileges and to gather evidence for your defense in your criminal case.

Criminal penalties of conviction include not only driver’s license suspension but fines, probation, jail or prison, and other difficult consequences. As a first offense, DUI is a misdemeanor with a potential sentence of up to one year in jail, fine of up to $1,000, drug and alcohol assessment and treatment, and a license suspension. Subsequent offenses result in felony charges with significantly increased sentencing: longer prison sentences, heavier fines, longer license suspension, and stricter terms of probation. Penalties may vary depending on whether you are charged in municipal court or district court.

Certain characteristics of an alleged offense can also enhance penalties of conviction. DUI while transporting a minor, child endangerment, aggravated DUI with a BAC of 0.15 percent or greater, and DUI manslaughter can all elevate charges and associated penalties well beyond those of a standard DUI.

Oklahoma Traffic Crimes Defense

If you have been arrested for DUI, DWI, or APC, you may be scared of what the arrest will mean for your license, your job, your family, and your reputation. You may be worried about the possibility of spending days or months in jail, or even years in prison for felony DUI. Take heart in knowing that a DUI arrest does not have to lead to conviction, even if a breath test, blood test, or chemical analysis indicates that you were under the influence or impaired by drugs or alcohol. Oklahoma City attorney Ryan Coventon has the skills, resources, and expertise to challenge the evidence against you to build a winning case. Call today for a free consultation.