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Stopped for DUI in Oklahoma- 6 Things to Know

Stopped for DUI in Oklahoma: 6 Things to Know

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States are constantly searching for more effective ways to deal with repeat offenders. Legislators in Oklahoma have decided to target what drivers simply cannot do without – their vehicles. An overhaul of the state’ forfeiture laws means that, as of 2015, a driver convicted of a third DWI could lose his or her vehicle. The old law required only two convictions, but both had to occur within a 10-year period and one of the offenses had to involve a serious injury or death. Now, there is no so-called look-back period. A third conviction, within any period of time, triggers the forfeiture process. Authorities, of course, cannot seize a vehicle that belongs to someone other than the offender. The forfeiture law also only applies to repeat offenders.

If you are stopped on suspicion of drunk driving in Oklahoma, here are six things you should know.

1.     Implied consent and sobriety testing

Do you know the difference between a chemical test to determine a driver’s blood alcohol concentration  (BAC), typically performed at a police station, and a field sobriety test, performed on the scene, which can convince an officer a driver is impaired? Only one of the two – the chemical test – is covered by Oklahoma’s Implied Consent Law. Drivers asked to submit to a test of their blood, urine or breath have consented in advance by accepting the privilege of driving in the state. Criminal defense lawyers say drivers can – and should – refuse the field sobriety test because it is not covered by the consent law and because studies have shown it can be wildly inaccurate.

2.     Refusing the chemical test

Many criminal defense attorneys say there is little to gain by refusing the chemical test. By violating the state’s Implied Consent Law, the driver will immediately have his or her driver’s license suspended for six months. In addition, the driver will be require to use an ignition interlock device for 18 months. While prosecutors don’t have a BAC level to introduce at trial, it is common to win a conviction with the help of testimony from the police officer that the driver as impaired. Prosecutors also will introduce the fact that the driver refused the chemical test as evidence of guilt.

3.     Expect to be on camera

It seems like hardly a day goes by when a serious crime isn’t captured on tape, either by a police officer or a citizen. Criminal defense attorneys say it’s a good idea for drivers to assume all DWI stops are being filmed. By saying and doing as little as possible, that video will have little or nothing interesting for prosecutors to examine. Drivers should always be polite and provide proof of insurance and the vehicle’s registration. In Oklahoma, drivers also must exit the vehicle when requested. However, drivers do not have to engage in conversation and do not have to agree to a search of the vehicle.

4.     More than .08 to worry about

The most restrictive limits are in place for the youngest drivers in the state. The legal limit for drivers under the age of 21 is .02 BAC – or the equivalent of a single drink for many individuals. The legal limit is only slightly higher – .04 BAC – for drivers with commercial licenses. For all other drivers, the legal limit is .08 BAC.

5.     DUI penalties in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has very strict DUI laws, particularly for repeat offenders. The penalty for a first DWI conviction is a fine of up to $1,000, a license suspension of up to 30 days and between 10 days and one  year in jail – although it is uncommon for a first offender without aggravating circumstances to be sentenced to jail. For second offenders, a lengthy jail term is likely since a second offense within 10 years is a felony in the state. A second offense is punishable by one to five years in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 and a six-month license suspension. A third offense within 10 years is punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Penalties also include DUI School, and alcohol or drug treatment, if required.

6.  Total cost of a DUI in Oklahoma

One criminal defense attorney has estimated the costs associated with a first conviction of DWI to be near $15,000. That includes a minimum of $300 for towing and to have the vehicle stored; at least $150 for bail; $950 for court costs and fines; $325 for DUI School and legal fees of at least $3,500 to $5,000 for a first DWI case. Also, car insurance will increase dramatically, perhaps $1,500 or more for at least three years.

This article is for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice you should consult an attorney.

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