DUI Attorney Tulsa, OK
Some of the most upstanding citizens in Tulsa, Oklahoma can find themselves accused of drunk driving or drugged driving. The decision to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is one that is made at the time when we are least able to make a sound decision. This is why drunk driving is the most common criminal offense that otherwise law-abiding people will face during their lifetime.
Unfortunately, the repercussions of a conviction far exceed the severity of this frequently victimless crime. Even for a first-time offense, you can be stripped of your driver’s license, made to pay hefty fines, stigmatized, and potentially be sentenced to a jail term.
The Criminal Defense Firm has helped numerous clients in Tulsa, Oklahoma, defend themselves against allegations of drunk or drugged driving. We have a track record of securing case dismissals, acquittals, and drastically mitigated sentences for our clients.
The Difference Between DWI and DUI in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Drunk driving laws in Oklahoma are unique in the United States. Most other states call the crime of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol either “driving under the influence” (DUI) or as “driving while intoxicated” or “driving while impaired” (DWI). A few states use other terms, but all of them can use the phrases interchangeably without affecting their legal meaning.
Not so in Oklahoma.
Under 47 Oklahoma Statute § 11-902, the crime of driving under the influence, or DUI, is the act of driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Meanwhile, 47 Oklahoma Statute § 761 defines the crime of driving while impaired, or DWI, which consists of driving a motor vehicle while “impaired by the consumption of alcohol” or anything else.
The crucial difference between a DUI and a DWI in Oklahoma is the legal BAC limit. To be guilty of DUI, you must have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. To be guilty of a DWI, you do not. All that is necessary to be guilty of a DWI is to be too impaired to drive safely. Even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you can still be convicted for DWI.
Steep Penalties for a Conviction
Both DWI and DUI are serious offenses that can drastically impair your life. Like most other criminal offenses, a conviction for DUI or DWI carries:
- Jail or prison time
- Collateral consequences
Unlike other crimes, convictions for DUI or DWI also come with a suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. This can significantly increase the weight of the collateral consequences that you face if you are convicted.
Collateral consequences are penalties that are not imposed by the government. Instead, they come from private parties, like your employer or your landlord. Some common collateral consequences that can come with a conviction for drunk or drugged driving are:
- Losing your job because you could no longer drive to work without your license
- Becoming ineligible or un-hirable for certain occupations, like as a professional driver
- Higher car insurance premiums
- Social stigmatization
These are in addition to the legal penalties that the state of Oklahoma can impose through its court system or the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS). Because drunk or drugged driving is a priorable offense, these penalties increase depending on how many convictions you have had in the last 10 years.
A conviction for DWI, which does not require proof that you had a BAC over 0.08 percent, carries:
- Between $100 and $500 in fines
- A maximum of 6 months in jail
- A license suspension of up to:
- 30 days for a first offense
- 6 months for a second offense
- 1 year for a third or any subsequent offense
A conviction for the more severe offense of DUI, which does require proof that your BAC was over the legal limit, comes with higher penalties. For a first offense, they are up to:
- $1,000 in fines
- 1 year in jail
- A 180-day license suspension
For a second offense, the maximum penalties are:
- $2,500 in fines
- 5 years in prison
- A 1-year license suspension
For a third offense in 10 years, the penalties are up to:
- $5,000 in fines
- 10 years in prison
- A 3-year license suspension
Additionally, you will have to undergo a drug or alcohol evaluation and pass a substance abuse course.
Aggravating Factors Can Increase the Penalties
There are also a host of factors that can increase the penalties for a DUI or DWI conviction in Tulsa. Some of the most common include:
- If you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), it may get suspended or even revoked
- If there were children in the vehicle at the time of your arrest, you can face child endangerment allegations
- When police impound your vehicle and search it, if they find illegal drugs you can also be charged with drug possession
- If your BAC was over 0.15 percent, or nearly twice the legal limit, you can be charged with aggravated DUI under 47 Oklahoma Statute § 11-902(D)
- If you were arrested after a car accident that killed someone, you can be accused of vehicular manslaughter, a felony offense that can carry several years in prison
- If you were arrested after a crash, you will be presumptively at fault for it
DUI or DWI charges have a strong tendency to escalate into far more serious allegations or spawn additional criminal charges.
Legal Defenses to Drunk Driving or Drugged Driving
While the penalties of a conviction are steep, an arrest does not automatically turn into a conviction. Prosecutors have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you are guilty of the offense charged. There are numerous legal defenses that you can raise that can keep them from proving their case.
A few of the most common defenses to DUI or DWI in Oklahoma are:
- The arresting officer did not have probable cause to initiate the traffic stop
- The breathalyzer was not calibrated properly
- Field sobriety tests that were used to incriminate you were incorrectly administered or flawed
- You were not operating the vehicle
- The vehicle is not motorized
Depending on the circumstances of your case, other legal defenses may be available as well.
Frequently Asked Questions About Drunk or Drugged Driving in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and The Criminal Defense Firm’s Legal Team
Is There a Separate Law for Drugged Driving?
No. Oklahoma’s DUI and DWI laws cover both alcohol and drugs. They also cover “any intoxicating substance other than alcohol which may render such person incapable of safely driving or operating a motor vehicle.” While this sounds like it targets illicit drugs like cocaine and non-medicinal-use marijuana, it also covers legally-obtained and potentially even prescribed medications, like sleeping pills or even caffeine. All that matters is that the substance impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
What is the Administrative Process for DWI or DUI Cases?
To the surprise of many people who are charged with DWI or DUI in Tulsa, drugged and drunk driving cases get split in two in their early stages.
The more serious part of the case is the criminal one. This is also the one that takes longer. Your criminal case is the one that goes through court and can lead to fines, jail time, and probation.
The other aspect of a DUI or DWI charge is the administrative case. This is resolved very quickly by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS) and only affects your driving privileges. It happens so quickly that most people who do not quickly get legal counsel are not aware that they can challenge their license suspension before it goes into effect.
What Does it Mean to Mitigate the Penalties of a Conviction?
Precisely because the penalties of a DUI or DWI conviction are so varied, there is room to negotiate a plea deal that is more in your interests than others would be. Additionally, if you have a strong defense, you can leverage that to secure a better outcome if you would rather avoid a trial.
Basically, there are numerous factual circumstances that skilled and experienced DUI-defense lawyers can use to tweak the penalties that you face. For example, the defense team at The Criminal Defense Firm may be able to mitigate the damage of a suspended driver’s license by having an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed, instead.
Why Won’t The Criminal Defense Firm Call Itself the Best DUI-Defense Firm in Tulsa?
Because that is something that we prefer to let our happy clients and our track record of success say for themselves. We think it means far more to our potential clients to hear it from them, rather than from us.
The Criminal Defense Firm: DWI- and DUI-Defense in Tulsa, Oklahoma
If you have been accused of drunk driving or drugged driving, you need effective legal defense to prevent the allegations from turning into a costly criminal conviction.
The Criminal Defense Firm has you covered.
Our DUI-defense and DWI-defense lawyers are all senior-level attorneys with extensive experience combatting these charges, and with a long track record of success. Contact them online or call their law office at (866) 603-4540 for help in Tulsa, Oklahoma, or its surrounding suburbs.