After working hard all day, you may have stopped to have a couple of drinks with your buddies. On the way home, you heard the sirens before you saw the flashing lights in your rearview mirror. After talking to the officer, you found yourself taking field sobriety tests and breathing into a breath-testing machine.
The next thing you know, you're in the back of the police car on your way to jail. You had only had a couple of beers, and you didn't feel drunk when you got behind the wheel. Why did your breath test land you behind bars?
The difference between DUI and DWI
Like most people, you probably already know that the legal blood alcohol content is .08 or higher. That may be true for a DUI, or driving under the influence, charge, but your BAC doesn't have to be at or above that level to cause an arrest. A BAC lower than .08 could result in a DWI, or driving while impaired.
Know the facts when it comes to BAC
Oklahoma law separates BAC levels into the following categories:
- Not intoxicated: A BAC between .01 and .05
- Potentially intoxicated: A BAC between .051 and .079
- Intoxicated: .08 or higher
If your BAC indicates that you may be impaired, the officer needs more evidence to establish probable cause for an arrest. Often, officers use field sobriety tests for this purpose. In addition, if you were speeding, weaving or driving in a manner that could indicate intoxication, this could also establish the probable cause an officer needs. Other indicators such as alcohol on your breath, bloodshot eyes and other behaviors may do the same.
What penalties do I face if convicted?
The potential penalties include jail time, fines and the suspension or revocation of your driver's license. More specifically, it depends on your DUI or DWI history. For example:
- First offense:
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- 10 days to one year in jail
- Six months without your license
- Second offense within 10 years of first offense:
- Up to $2,500 in fines
- One to five years in prison
- Up to one year without your license
- Six months to three years using an ignition interlock device
- Third or higher offenses:
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- One to10 years in prison
- Three years without your license
- Up to three years using an ignition interlock device
Obviously, you won't use an ignition interlock device until you get your license back. In addition, the time you use one depends on how many other times within five years that the court ordered you to use one. On top of the fines, you will more than likely have other fees and costs to pay, associated with the charges.
Don't take a DUI or DWI charge lightly
In addition to the potential penalties you face if convicted, your personal and professional lives also take a hit. A conviction could jeopardize your ability to work, depending on what you do. If you must serve some time in jail or prison, this would obviously affect your ability to work and live your life as well.
These charges need your attention. You have the right to challenge DUI and DWI charges in court. Just because you face charges does not necessarily mean that prosecutors will get a conviction. Police officers must adhere to certain procedures and must protect your rights. If the officer made a mistake or violated your rights, any supposed evidence may not stand up in court.
In order to help ensure that your case received all of the attention it deserves, you may want to consider talking to an attorney. Fortunately, you don't need to look to Tulsa or Oklahoma City to find someone more than capable of handling your case.