Is a DUI The Same As a DWI?
In Oklahoma, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly forbidden. In many states, DUI and DWI are regarded as the same charge. However, the law in Oklahoma considers these as two separate offenses, that each carry different penalties.
Both DUI and DWI are considered serious crimes in Oklahoma and carry with them harsh consequences. If you are convicted of drunk driving, you could face jail time and probation, have to do community service, pay large fines, get your driver’s license revoked and stain your driving record.
If you are facing a DUI or DWI charge in Oklahoma, you should speak with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. With the help of an attorney, you can get your charges dropped or reduced substantially, and avoid getting a permanent criminal record. At Cannon & Associates, our lawyers are ready to help you fight your DWI/DUI charges in Oklahoma. Our law office has been serving the state for over 30 years, and our DUI attorneys have helped hundreds of clients with their DUI and DWI cases.
Due to our Fierce Advocacy and dedication to our client’s needs, we have built up a strong-attorney client relationship. Facing DWI/DUI charges can bring on a lot of anxiety and stress, and we want to take this burden off of you and do everything that we can to get you a favorable outcome for your case.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation at 405-591-3935.
What Is a DUI Charge?
DUI means driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Just like the federal legal limit, Oklahoma law sets out the legal limit at 0.08%. So, if you are caught by a law enforcement officer driving under the influence and your blood alcohol content (BAC) is higher than 0.08%, you will be charged with a DUI. This level can be based on solely alcohol, drugs, or a mixture of both. If you take prescription drugs, you must always ensure that you are under the legal limit before operating a motor vehicle.
For commercial drivers, the legal limit is much lower, standing at just 0.04%. If commercial drivers are found driving over this limit, they will face license suspension and more serious consequences.
The state of Oklahoma has a separate offense called aggravated DUI, which is more serious than a regular DUI charge. If you are caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration of over 0.15%, you will be charged with an aggravated DUI.
Driving with such a high blood alcohol content causes a high risk to public safety and increases the chances of an accident happening substantially. As such, the penalties for an aggravated DUI conviction are far more severe.
In Oklahoma, you do not need to be operating a vehicle under the influence to be charged with a DUI/DWI. It is illegal under criminal law to be in ‘actual physical control’ of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The meaning of ‘actual physical control’ has yet to be properly defined under law, and can cause a lot of confusion in criminal cases. However, generally, if you are in a vehicle while intoxicated with intentions to operate it, you can be charged with actual physical control (APC).
Some of our clients have been charged with APC while sleeping in the driver’s seat while under the influence, and others have been charged while sitting in driver’s seat with their key in the ignition. Speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you have been charged with APC in Oklahoma. They can try to get your charges thrown out based on a lack of probable cause.
What is a DWI Charge?
In Oklahoma, DWI stands for driving while intoxicated. Impaired driving laws state that if a person is operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, with a blood alcohol content above 0.05% but below 0.08%, they will be charged with a DWI. The driver’s BAC can be based on both alcohol and drugs, including prescription drugs.
A DWI is less serious than a DUI due to the lower BAC. A law enforcement officer must have a valid reason to arrest a person on suspicion of DWI in addition to the blood alcohol test.
DWI/DUI Charges For Minors
For those under the age of 21 in Oklahoma, the laws on drunk driving are much stricter. The state takes a zero-tolerance approach to driving under the influence, meaning that there is no difference between DUI and DWI charges for minors. So, if you are under the age of 21, you will automatically be charged with a DUI, rather than a DWI, if your blood alcohol concentration contains any amount of alcohol or drugs.
Being charged with a DUI as a minor also imposes tougher penalties, including automatic license suspension, the requirement to attend mandatory alcohol awareness classes, and the installation of an ignition interlock device.
DUI vs DWI Offense in Oklahoma
A DUI refers to driving under the influence whilst a DWI refers to driving while intoxicated. The primary difference between DUI and DWI charges is the blood alcohol content level. As noted above, a DUI charge will be brought against a person that is driving with a blood alcohol content over 0.08%. A DWI charge will be brought against a person whose blood alcohol content was between 0.05% and 0.08%.
Both a DWI and DUI refer to drunk driving or driving under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs, however, the severity of the acts is what separates them. Generally, a DWI, or driving with impaired ability, is considered less serious than a DUI and as such, carries less severe penalties. All DWI’s are charged as misdemeanors and do not impose penalty points on drivers that are convicted.
In comparison, a first offense for a DUI is charged as a misdemeanor, and all subsequent offenses are charged as felony charges. The penalties for felony charges are far more severe, and the convicted driver can receive a permanent criminal record. If your lawyer can get your DUI charge reduced to a DWI in Oklahoma, it is considered a good outcome, as you will not get any penalty points and only receive a misdemeanor conviction.
In some states, the meaning of DWI and DUI are completely different. For example, in Texas, DWIs are the equivalent of a DUI in Oklahoma, with a BAC of over 0.08%, and are charged under the Texas Penal Code. It is important that you do not confuse the meaning of DUI and DWI with other states and always speak with a lawyer that has experience with local Oklahoma law.
Penalties For Driving Over The Legal Limit in Oklahoma
The key differences between DUIs and DWIs are the severity of the charges and the penalties that are imposed on those convicted. Generally, most driving while intoxicated charges are treated more lightly than DUI charges, and as such the penalties are less severe.
DWI Penalties in Oklahoma
DWIs in Oklahoma are always charged as misdemeanors. If you have been convicted of multiple DWIs in the past, this can not be used to enhance your charges, and you will always be charged with a misdemeanor for a DWI. The criminal penalties for a DWI are as follows:
- Maximum fine of $500.
- Time in county jail for up to six months.
- Requirement to participate a drug and alcohol assessment or evaluation.
In relation to license suspension for your DUI, the Oklahoma Department of Safety imposes the following rules:
- First-time license suspension for thirty days. You are unable to get this sentence modified.
- Second-time license suspension for six months. It is possible to appeal this sentence or get it modified.
- Subsequent license suspensions for up to one year. An experienced DUI lawyer can help get this sentence modified.
As noted previously, you will not receive any penalty points on your driver’s license for a DWI conviction and any previous DWI convictions will not have a baring on any future drunk driving charges.
DUI Penalties in Oklahoma
In comparison to a DWI, the penalties for DUI convictions in Oklahoma are more severe. All first-time DUIs are charged as misdemeanor offenses, and if you are charged subsequently within the ten years following your first offense, you will be charged with a felony DUI.
The penalties for DUIs are as follows:
For a first-time misdemeanor DUI conviction, you may face the following penalties:
- Up to one year of jail time.
- Maximum fines of $1,000.
- License suspension for up to six months.
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle.
Most second DUI offenses are charged as felonies in Oklahoma, meaning that the penalties are much more severe. Additionally, being convicted of a felony can result in a permanent criminal record which can be more difficult to expunge. Some penalties you may face for a second DUI conviction include:
- Jail time from one to five years.
- Maximum fines of $2,500.
- Automatic license suspension for up to one year.
- Mandatory alcohol awareness classes or drug programs by the court.
- Installation of an IID.
A third DUI offense will be automatically charged as a felony. The penalties for a third drunk driving conviction include:
- Fines of up to $5,000.
- Jail time ranging from one to ten years.
- Community service.
- Automatic license suspension for up to three years.
- Installation of an IID.
- Requirement to take part in a court-ordered alcohol or drug awareness program.
Fourth and Subsequent DUIs
Being convicted of a fourth DUI offense within a ten-year period will impose serious consequences. The law in Oklahoma takes a very strict approach to repeat DUI offenders, and you could be looking at the following penalties:
- From one to twenty years jail time.
- Maximum fines of $5,000.
- License suspension from three to five years.
- Installation of an IID.
- Requirement to commit 480 hours of community service.
- Attendance in an alcohol and drug awareness program.
Regardless of whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor DWI or felony DUI charge in Oklahoma, it is important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. They can help minimize your charges and ensure that you do not face severe penalties for a conviction.
Consequences of Drunk Driving in Oklahoma
Being convicted of a DUI/DWI has serious consequences for drivers in Oklahoma, including time in prison, huge fines, probation, community service, drug and alcohol programs, and more. Aside from the criminal law penalties of DWI/DUI charges, drivers found driving under the influence will face other consequences, including:
- Car insurance rates – If you are convicted of a DUI, your car insurance rates will increase substantially. If your car insurance company decides to keep you on as a customer, they will likely increase their rate from what you were previously paying. In many instances, car insurance companies decide to drop customers that have been convicted of a DUI, so you will likely have to find another car insurance company to insure your vehicle.
- License revocation – Being arrested for a DUI will result in automatic license suspension by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (ODPS). If you are convicted of a DUI/DWI under criminal law, you may face license suspension for more than three years.
- Criminal record – If you are convicted of a DUI or DWI, it will go on your criminal record. Your criminal record will be visible to the public, meaning that your future employers will be able to see it. As such, you will likely face difficulties getting a job, getting accepted to universities, being granted public housing, applying for loans, voting, and more. You may be able to expunge your license after a certain period of time but you will need an experienced lawyer to help you with this process.
Although the penalties and consequences for a DUI and DWI vary, it is important that you seek legal help when coming up against a severe charge to ensure that you do not face serious, life-impacting consequences.
Will I Get My Driver’s License Suspended For a DUI or DWI Offense in Oklahoma?
When a driver is pulled over and arrested by police officers for driving while intoxicated, they are required to confiscate your driver’s license automatically and report it to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (ODPS). The ODPS are responsible for issuing licenses and revoking them when necessary. As such, your initial license revocation is dealt with separate from your criminal trial.
As driving is a privilege and not a ‘right’ in Oklahoma, you will have to schedule an administrative hearing with the ODPS to get your driver’s license back. Drivers have 15 days from the day they were arrested for a DUI to schedule an administrative hearing with the ODPS. Failure to schedule this hearing within the first fifteen days will result in automatic license suspension for six months.
In the administrative hearing, you will have to demonstrate to the hearing officer that you are still fit to drive and that you do not pose a risk to public safety. The officers who conducted a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test will give evidence at your hearing and so will any witnesses to the scene. An experienced DUI lawyer can help you get your driver’s license back by arguing on your behalf and putting forward evidence to demonstrate your competence. If you need to make an appeal to the ODPS, your DUI attorney can help you with this process.
Is a DUI The Same as a DWI in Oklahoma?
DUI and DWI have different meanings under Oklahoma law. Typically, DWI, or driving with your ability impaired, is charged with lesser degree than DUIs. All DWI charges in Oklahoma are charged as misdemeanors, whereas a DUI can be charged as a serious felony. The primary difference between the two charges is the amount of alcohol found in your system at the time of the offense.
However, regardless of whether you have been charged with a DUI or DWI, it is important that you speak with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. A drunk driving conviction can have serious consequences, including jail time, huge fines, and a permanent criminal record. You may also face other consequences, such as difficulty finding car insurance, license suspension, and negative effects resulting from a criminal record.
At Cannon & Associates, we are here to help you fight your DUI/DWI charges. Our law firm has a team of lawyers that are highly experienced with DUI cases and have the skills necessary to win your case in an Oklahoma court. We know how stressful it can be to be charged with a drunk driving offense, and we want to ensure that your life is not impacted by a criminal conviction.
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