With the holiday season in full swing, attorneys are beginning to see a surge in alcohol related driving offenses. Though driving under the influence is a common offense, it is fully avoidable if people plan ahead to use designated drivers, hire taxi cabs, or call an organization offering a safe ride home, such as AAA's "Tipsy Tow" service.
Driving Under the Influence in Oklahoma
Driving under the influence is dangerous not only to the intoxicated driver but also to others on roadways. An arrest can come after a routine traffic stop, a traffic stop specifically for suspicion of DUI, a sobriety checkpoint, or after an alcohol-related crash.
The last example may involve criminal charges and civil litigation beyond the DUI charge. If you are arrested for DUI in Oklahoma, you face serious consequences if convicted:
- First Offense DUI: Misdemeanor punishable by ten days to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
- Second Offense DUI (within ten years of the first): Felony punishable by one to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500
- Third Offense DUI: Felony punishable by one to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
In addition to fines and jail or prison time, a person convicted may also be subject to driver's license suspension, probation, community service, alcohol treatment and monitoring, and ignition interlock.
Other circumstances of the arrest and conviction may lead to enhanced charges. For example, if a driver is found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of o.15 or greater, he or she will be charged with aggravated driving under the influence which carries additional penalties.
If a DUI conviction follows a previous conviction involving a DUI-related death (first degree manslaughter, negligent homicide, or second degree murder), the penalty includes five to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. These crimes are prosecuted aggressively because the consequences of can be deadly. Prosecutors often feel that harsh sentences will serve as a deterrent to driving under the influence.
In 2010, there were 245 DUI fatalities, an increase of more than 17% over the preceding year. In the five years from 2006 to 2010, alcohol related accidents in Oklahoma County alone led to 117 deaths. Alcohol-related driving deaths are more likely to occur during Christmas and New Year's Eve than at any other time in the year.
According to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), forty percent of holiday roadway fatalities are the result of an intoxicated driver--a twelve percent increase over the rest of the year. We encourage you to find a safe and responsible holiday. However, if your holiday cheer lands you behind bars facing an DUI or other alcohol related offense, contact us to speak with a lawyer who can handle your defense.
For more information on DUI related cases click here.