Driving under the influence (DUI) in Oklahoma is considered a misdemeanor and consequences can vary from having your license suspended to spending several days in jail. When it comes to your DUI sentencing, however; there are many factors that are taken into consideration before you are penalized. As first-time offenders could face up to one year of jail time, it is important to understand how to build a strong defense to determine what your next best steps are moving forward. Today, we discuss how to dismiss or reduce a first-time DUI charge and factors that could help prove your innocence.
If faced with a DUI conviction, you want the best defense you can find. For a strong legal defense, contact our office online.
First-time offenders are generally looking at the following consequences:
- License suspension
- Substance treatment
- Fines (up to $1,000)
- Jail time
There are many factors that come into play with DUI sentencing. If this was your first DUI, you will be charged with a misdemeanor if no one was harmed and there was not a minor in your vehicle at the time of the DUI. Once convicted of a misdemeanor in Oklahoma state court, you must pay a fine of up to $1,000 and spend anywhere between 10 days to 1 year in jail.
What You Need to Know About Lowering a First-Time DUI Charge
If the police officer who pulled you over did not adhere to protocol or did not have sufficient reason to believe you were driving under the influence, then you may be able to prove that your arrest was unlawful. There are policies, procedures, and laws enact to govern the police force. Errors, misjudgments, and failing to follow proper procedures could help you dismiss or reduce your first-time DUI charge. Here are some ways your attorney may be able to accomplish this:
Prove the Police Officer Did Not Adhere to Proper Breath Test Protocol
In Oklahoma, if a police officer has a reason to believe that you are in physical control of or driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be pulled over and asked to take a breathalyzer test. Oklahoma takes breath tests seriously. A specific agency, the Oklahoma Board of Tests (BOT), sets the rules governing all breathalyzer testing in the state. A key thing to remember is that you may be able to reduce your DUI offense or get the charge dismissed if the police officer did not follow proper breath test protocol. The following could lead to an improper breath test reading:
- Failure to adhere to the rules of BOT
- Breathalyzer misfunctions/is not calibrated properly
- Exhibit of interferents (chemicals or physical substances that could interfere with the reading)
- Procedures not executed (failure to follow specific procedures before administering a breath test)
Additionally, a police officer must have the proper certification to administer the breath test and this certification must be renewed annually. The breathalyzer itself must also be certified and periodic maintenance must be maintained.
Determine if You Were Actually Pulled Over for a Legitimate Reason
A police officer cannot pull you over for the following reasons:
- Anonymous tip or call
An office must witness an actual violation of the law before acting. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a 911 call may be enough to justify a stop without the officer witnessing a crime first.
- Changing in and out of a lane
This does not raise enough suspicion to warrant a stop. Drivers may weave or change lanes for several reasons, including to avoid debris in the road, to abruptly exit the highway, or to swerve to get out of harm’s way.
- Believed you were driving under the influence
A police officer cannot pull you over just because he/she felt you might be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is considered an illegal stop.
- Mistake of law
If you misunderstood the law or were not aware that it existed at the time, you might be able to use this as a defense.
Figure Out if You Were Improperly Arrested
The Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) have specific rules in place to determine if an arrest is warranted. If these are not followed properly and you were arrested, your arrest could be challenged. Other factors that could potentially affect SFSTs include weather and medical and physical conditions. Some of these medical and physical conditions include but are not limited to the following:
- Lack of sleep
- Illness (such as influenza)
You may also have been improperly arrested if an illegal extension of stop occurred. If an officer pulled you over for speeding, you should receive a ticket and then be allowed to drive off unless there is another reason to extend the stop. If there is not a legitimate reason, you cannot continue to be detained.
See if a Procedural Mistake Happened
It is important to know your rights. If you require legal assistance, you should consider speaking with an experienced attorney. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if the police officer that arrested you may have made a mistake:
- Were my Miranda Rights read?
- How intoxicated was I?
- Was the officer properly trained on how to administer the breath test?
- Did the officer tell me what my Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was?
- Why did the officer pull me over?
- Did the officer make a mistake while administering the SFST?
- Was there a reason why I may have failed the SFST?
If you were charged with a first-time DUI offense and require legal counsel, contact our office online or call us at (405) 294-1511 to get started. We provide aggressive, tailored criminal defense legal services.