Seeing flashing police lights in your rearview mirror can send a chill up and down your spine even when the cruiser speeds past you to stop another driver.
However, when you are the focus of a DUI traffic stop, how you react is vitally important. A DUI conviction can bring potentially devastating personal and financial consequences.
Oklahoma DUI penalties
A first-offense DUI conviction in Oklahoma can result in 10 days to one year in jail, up to $1,000 in fines and a suspended driver’s license for at least six months. You may also have to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle.
There are also penalties most people don’t think about, such as potential impacts for employment, housing and education. Convictions can also result in auto insurance rates doubling or tripling. Penalties increase exponentially for second or third offenses.
Stay calm, and don’t incriminate yourself
An experienced DUI defense attorney will work diligently to have charges dismissed or penalties reduced. But, it’s important to remember these five things if you are pulled over:
- Pull off to the side of the road quickly, but remain in the car and keep your hands on the steering wheel
- Be polite to officers and follow their instructions – don’t resist or respond angrily or rudely
- While you should be polite, you don’t have to answer their questions – invoke your Fifth Amendment rights to silence
- Don’t try to explain you “only” had one or two drinks – police will likely not believe you
- Remain calm if you are arrested, and immediately request a lawyer
Implied consent and refusing a blood or breath test
If an officer suspects you are driving under the influence, he or she may ask you to take a breath test. You can refuse, but under Oklahoma’s “Implied Consent” law, that refusal can result in facing the same consequences as a DUI conviction. Some prosecutors will also point to a refusal as evidence that you were driving drunk.
Protect your future
While the best DUI defense is never to drink and drive, everyone makes mistakes. However, if you are stopped and charged, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer understands how to navigate the complex legal system and scrutinize the evidence, the officer’s conduct and the accuracy of breath and blood tests.