New Oklahoma DUI Law Takes Effect November 1

The bills passed into law by the Oklahoma legislature will take effect tomorrow, November 1, 2011.  Among the 186 new laws will be tougher traffic laws that strengthen the penalty for Oklahoma DUI and other traffic offenses. Senate Bill 529, authored by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, becomes effective tomorrow and strengthens existing DUI penalties.  The Erin Elizabeth Swezey Act, named for a 20-year-old Edmond woman killed when she was involved in an accident with an intoxicated driver, will allow ignition interlock to be installed on a driver's car on the first DUI conviction.  Previously, ignition interlock was only used on a second or subsequent Oklahoma DUI conviction.  The driver in Erin Swezey's accident, who was also killed, had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.29 and had prior DUI convictions. Under the new law, drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or greater on a first offense will have ignition interlock installed at their own expense and be required to have it for 18 months.  A second DUI conviction with a BAC of 0.08 or greater will result in ignition interlock for four years, and subsequent offenses require the device for five years.  Drivers required to have ignition interlock installed on their vehicles will be prohibited from driving any vehicle without the device, and their driver's licenses will be stamped with "Interlock Required," making it easy for police officers to ascertain whether or not the driver is legally driving the vehicle. Another way the new law makes DUI penalties more severe is by removing a judge's ability to accept a plea agreement to a lesser charge.  This will take away one DUI defense option for Oklahoma DUI lawyers.  The only DUI defense will now be to get the charge completely dismissed or to obtain a not guilty verdict. Senate Bill 529 is only one of nearly 200 bills taking effect tomorrow.  Another law taking tougher action against traffic offenses is House Bill 1507, also called "Aaron's Law," which targets reckless driving.  One example of a penalty under this law is the 12-month driver's license suspension for anyone who passes a stopped school bus loading or unloading passengers.  The license revocation is in addition to existing penalties of a $249 fine and four demerit points against the driver's license, and there are no exceptions granted to the suspension.  The year's suspension also applies to reckless driving and failing to obey a traffic signal resulting in great bodily injury. With significantly tougher penalties for DUI and traffic offenses, it is more important than ever for those facing criminal charges to seek legal counsel from an experienced reckless driving lawyer or DUI lawyer in Oklahoma City.  Your rights are in jeopardy, and only skillful defense can adequately protect you from unnecessary consequences.

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