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DUI & DWI Law: Penalties and Charges

The penalties associated with driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) can vary greatly in Oklahoma. Many factors must be considered when looking at DUI & DWI penalties, which is why it is imperative to seek legal representation from a Tulsa DUI attorney if you have been charged with one of these offenses.

The Difference Between DUI and DWI

You are considered DUI if you have a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. If your blood alcohol levels exceed .15 percent, you will be charged with aggravated DUI. Aggravated DUI carries much higher fines and jail time requirements.

DWI is a lesser charge than DUI and carries lower fines and penalties. You are considered driving while intoxicated in Oklahoma if your blood alcohol level registers at .06 or .07. This small difference in points can mean a large difference in fines.

Municipal Versus State Courts

Where you were charged with the DUI & DWI can have a significant difference on the penalties associated with this charge. Municipal or city courts generally have smaller fines and shorter jail sentences than state courts. However, municipal penalties will vary based on the laws of that specific city.

On average, a municipal court will impose a fine of up to $1,200 and up to 10 days in jail for a first time DUI offense with a blood alcohol level of .08 to .10. The same offense in state court will carry a minimum fine of $1,000 and can result in a jail sentence of 10 days to one year based on the circumstances of the case.

Most first time DUI charges are considered a misdemeanor. However, if you have had a previous DUI or DWI conviction in the last 10 years, you may be charged with a felony DUI. If charged with a felony, the fines and penalties associated with the DUI rise dramatically.

A felony DUI can carry a minimum of $2,500 in fines and a jail sentence of 1 to 5 years. A second felony conviction faces $5,000 in fines and 3 to 10 years in prison. A third conviction faces a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 20 years in prison.

It should be noted that if there are any special circumstances that apply to your case, you will face the higher end of the penalties. Special circumstances include child endangerment, which means a child age 15 or under was in the vehicle that you were operating while under the influence, if an accident occurred, or if vehicular manslaughter was committed.

Additional Criminal Penalties Associated With A DUI OR DWI Conviction

In addition to the monetary fines and jail time that you may receive as part of the conviction, you may also face additional penalties. These penalties can include:

  • Mandatory alcohol rehabilitation program
  • Mandatory Ignition Interlock Device on your vehicle for a period of time
  • Mandatory community service

Your actual penalties will be based on the facts surrounding the case and any prior convictions that you may have concerning DUI & DWI.

Civil Penalties

When you are charged with DUI or DWI there are also civil penalties that are attached to these charges. These charges are independent of any criminal charges and are held in an administrative setting.

When you are charged with DUI or DWI, the police officer will issue you a paper that is known as a Notice of Revocation. This notice is stating that the State intends to take away your driving privileges for a period of time because of these charges. You have exactly 15 days from this date to schedule a hearing with the Oklahoma Department of Safety.

If you do not schedule this hearing within the 15 day time period, your rights to drive will terminate within 30 days after you have been given this notice. The revocation lasts for a minimum of 60 days. If you do schedule this hearing, you retain your right to drive until the final verdict of the administrative hearing.

It is very important that you also seek legal counsel to attend this hearing. Your right to drive may be permanently revoked, even if you are not convicted of the DUI or DWI. Having legal representation during this process is your best chance for a good outcome to this hearing.

DUI and DWI Defenses

It is very critical to the outcome of your case to understand that there are several defenses that can be used when you are charged with a DUI. Just because you have been arrested for a DUI does not mean that you have been convicted. Only people who have been convicted of this crime face all of the penalties listed above.

Many people believe that they should go to court and represent themselves on this matter. They believe that there is no real chance of not being convicted, so they face the court alone. This is the worst thing that you can do. Even if you are convicted in the end, your attorney can fight for lesser penalties and provide you with the best possible outcome to your case.

There are many different defenses that your attorney can use on your behalf. Your Tulsa DUI attorney is very familiar with all the laws and recent cases surrounding this issue and can use this knowledge to aggressively represent your case. Different defenses may apply to the circumstances of your case such as:

  • A breathalyzer machine that was improperly used or maintained which in turn provided inaccurate readings
  • An officer who was not properly trained administered the sobriety test
  • You suffer from GERD which causes the readings of the test to be inaccurate
  • You had serious dental work performed that day which can cause acid build up in your system
  • There were issues with the arrest that have made the process invalid

There are also many other defenses that can be used. Your attorney will use the best defense that applies to your specific case.
Driving under the influence is a serious charge and can have a significant impact on your life in many ways. With so much at stake, it is always in your best interest to seek legal representation so that you can fight these charges with confidence.

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