DUI penalties in Oklahoma can derail your future

Motor vehicles are incredible tools that make modern life simpler. Their use also results in thousands of deaths and severe injuries every year. In order to reduce the potential for severe crashes, the government has placed restrictions on when and how people can drive. Some of the most harshly enforced driving rules are the ones that deal with drug or alcohol impairment behind the wheel.

Impaired drivers cause a substantial number of serious car accidents, so Oklahoma has placed limits on alcohol use. Those with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher when driving could face criminal charges for driving under the influence (DUI). Those charges not only create a criminal record that can haunt you, they carry criminal penalties, such as jail time, loss of your license and steep fines.

What are the penalties for DUI charges in Oklahoma?

First time offenders face the most lenient penalties, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't take a first offense very seriously. Chances are that the courts will. A first DUI charge will likely be a misdemeanor offense that carries a fine of as much as $1,000 and between 10 days and a year in jail.

Any subsequent charges could very well be felony charges. A second DUI charge within a ten year period after completing the probation, jail time or license suspension for a previous DUI brings steeper consequences. There is a minimum sentence of a year in prison, but also the potential for up to five years. You will face a fine of up to $2,500. A second felony DUI charge carries a mandatory minimum of one year in jail with a maximum of a decade in jail and a fine of $5,000.

If you end up facing a third felony DUI charge during the 10 year "lookback" period from the first, you face between one and twenty years in jail and fine of up to $5,000. There are also aggravating factors, including if there were minor children in the vehicle or if your BAC was 0.15 percent or higher.

DUIs cause issues beyond criminal penalties

Simply avoiding jail time from an alcohol-related criminal charge won't protect you from other consequences to a conviction. Even a misdemeanor DUI offense could cause all kinds of social issues for you. For example, your employer may have a zero-tolerance policy for criminal convictions. Even if they are understanding about it, you may have issues if you seek raises or promotions in the future. Worse, if you find yourself in need of a new job, potential employers may frown on a criminal record.

The same is true of landlords, making renting more complicated. Even your friends and family may treat you differently after a DUI conviction or guilty plea. You need to consider all of your options and the consequences before moving forward when facing DUI charges.

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