Oklahoma Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Felony DUI Charges in El Reno, Oklahoma

A DUI is a serious criminal offense in every state. Each of these states will charge a DUI as a felony under certain circumstances such as multiple DUIs within a certain time period. Since Oklahoma’s felony DUI laws are among the nation’s strictest, you will need the help of a seasoned Oklahoma DUI attorney if you are arrested for this offense.

Second Offense DUI

Oklahoma is one of only two states that will charge you with a felony for a second DUI even in the absence of aggravating factors. To qualify as a second DUI, probation for your first DUI must have ended no longer than ten years ago. A first DUI counts against you even if it occurred in another state. Even if you received a deferred sentence for your first DUI, it will count as a first offense for felony DUI purposes if you received your deferment after November 1, 2011.

If you were convicted under Oklahoma’s restrictive under-21 DUI law, which lowers the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) minimum from 0.08% to 0.02%, your prior conviction will not count against you for felony DUI purposes. Likewise, a prior conviction for Driving While Impaired, reserved for drivers with BACs of 0.06% or 0.07% , will not count against you for felony purposes.

Other Forms of Felony DUI

In addition to a second offense within 10 years there are three other ways that a DUI charge can result in a felony conviction:

  • A first offense in which you cause an accident that results in great bodily injury
  • A first offense in which you cause an accident that results in death (in this case you will be charged with manslaughter, which is of course a felony)
  • A DUI that occurs with a minor child on board. Even a non-driver parent or guardian can be charged with felony child endangerment if he knew that the driver was drunk and allowed his child to ride anyway.

Penalties

Conviction for felony DUI will result in imprisonment from 1 to 20 years, a fine of up to $7,500, and a driver’s license suspension of at least one year. In some cases your sentence can be deferred or your jail time can be suspended. If you are convicted of manslaughter, you could face life in prison, although more lenient sentences are common.

Long-Term Consequences of a Felony

The consequences of a felony are lifelong – you will never be able to vote or own a firearm, for example. You may also find employment difficult to secure (impossible in some professions). If you are ever convicted of another crime, even a misdemeanor, your prior felony conviction might be taken into account when determining your sentence.

How a Lawyer Can Help

A skilled and savvy DUI attorney can help you in many ways, including:

  • Filing an immediate petition to preserve evidence in your favor;
  • plea bargaining with the prosecutor to have your charge reduced to a misdemeanor charge such as Driving While Impaired;
  • fighting for your acquittal in court; and
  • helping you answer questions under oath.

A felony DUI charge is not the occasion to try to “go it alone” by representing yourself or securing the services of a lawyer who lacks sufficient experience defending clients against Oklahoma felony DUI charges. The Handley Law Center, a member of the elite International Society of Primerus Law Firms, offers great expertise and stellar client track record. If you are facing a felony DUI charge in El Reno, Canadian County or even in Oklahoma City, call the Oklahoma Criminal Defense Lawyers at The Handley Law Center at 405-295-1924 for a free initial consultation.

 

Oklahoma DUI Defense Attorneys Discuss Certain Penalties Associated with a DUI

In addition to criminal penalties applicable to a Canadian County, Oklahoma DUI, you are also subject to a drivers’ license suspension. Since a driver’s license suspension is considered an administrative rather than a criminal penalty, and since driving is considered a privilege rather than a right in Oklahoma, it is easier for the government to withdraw your driving privileges than to incarcerate you or impose criminal fines. To protect your driving privileges in Oklahoma, you need the services of an experienced Oklahoma DUI attorney.

“Implied Consent” and DUI

Under the Oklahoma “implied consent” law, the act of driving on an Oklahoma road is deemed to be implied consent to cooperate with a sobriety test at the demand of an Oklahoma police officer who arrests you for DUI. Intoxication tests can include:

  • a field sobriety test (such as walking a straight line);
  • an Intoxilyzer test (commonly referred to as a Breathalyzer test); or
  • a saliva, blood or urine test (commonly used if you are suspected of intoxication with prescription or recreational drugs rather than alcohol).

Although in most cases you are entitled to refuse to cooperate with the test, refusal is considered an offense of its own under Oklahoma state law. Your driving privileges can be suspended even if you are never convicted of DUI, and in some cases the length of the suspension can exceed the length of a DUI-based suspension.

“Reading You Your Rights”

Before an Oklahoma police officer can demand that you submit to a sobriety test, he must first arrest you (which means that he must have “probable cause” to arrest you in the first place). He must also “read you your rights”, meaning that he must read you a prepared statement informing you if your rights concerning the sobriety test. You must be informed, among other things, that you have the right to refuse the test but that your license will be suspended if you do, and that you do not have the right to consult with an attorney before you make your decision.

The Decision

When a police officer asks you to take a sobriety test, the decision of whether or not to refuse can present you with an apparent dilemma. If you suspect that you are legally intoxicated, submitting to the test will likely result in a conviction entailing criminal penalties and suspension of your license. If you refuse, you will deny the state evidence of intoxication that it may need to secure a conviction, but you will ensure that the state can suspend your license even without a conviction. Remember two things while you are deciding what to do:

  • The state of Oklahoma can still pursue a DUI against you even without a sobriety test by using booking videos and the officer’s own testimony as evidence.
  • Your refusal can be used as evidence against you in a DUI trial — the prosecutor can suggest to the court that the reason why you refused the sobriety test is because you knew that you were intoxicated.

How a Lawyer Can Help You

When your driving privileges are threatened, you will need the services of an experienced professional at reasonable rates. The Handley Law Center is a proud member of the International Society of Primerus Law Firms, a very exclusive association of elite small to medium-sized law firms. If you are facing a DUI-related driver’s license suspension in El Reno, Canadian County, or elsewhere in the Oklahoma City metro area, call the Oklahoma DUI Defense Attorneys at The Handley Law Center during business hours at 405-295-1924 for your free initial consultation.

El Reno Criminal Defense Attorneys Discusses Expunging Your Criminal Record in Oklahoma

A criminal record can wreak havoc in your life by preventing you from securing employment, qualifying for a loan or being admitted to an educational institution. Fortunately, Oklahoma state law allows for limited situations in which your criminal record can be expunged, thereby preventing the public from accessing the expunged portion of your criminal history. Even background check companies will not be able to find any information that has been expunged.

Expungement is a legal procedure undertaken with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Two types of expungements are available for those who qualify, and you can apply for an expungement by filing a petition with the appropriate state court. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation strongly recommends hiring a lawyer if you seek an expungement, however.

Section 18 Expungements

A Section 18 expungement is the most desirable form of expungement, and it is the most difficult type of expungement to obtain. Section 18 expungements result in a complete deletion of the individual’s arrest and conviction records from public view. You are eligible to petition for a Section 18 expungement if:

  • you were acquitted of the crime
  • your innocence of the crime was established through DNA testing
  • you were under 18 when you committed the crime and later received a full pardon for it
  • no charges were filed against you after your arrest and the statute of limitations has already expired
  • you were arrested, charged or subjected to a warrant based on mistaken identity

Section 18 identifies several more circumstances under which a Section 18 expungement may be warranted.

Section 991(c) Expungements

A Section 991(c) expungement is designed for people who were arrested, pled guilty, and received a deferred sentence as an act of leniency. If the expungement is granted, the record of your arrest will remain visible to the public; however, your guilty plea and conviction will be changed to a “not guilty” plea followed by a dismissal.

Loopholes

Your criminal records are not destroyed when they are expunged. Instead, they are removed from the office of the court clerk but remain in the files of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, although not in the main filing area. Even after an expungement, your prior criminal history can still be used against you for two very limited purposes – impeachment and false character proceedings. If you are a witness in a trial, for example, information that has been expunged can be used by someone cross-examining you to contradict your testimony if it is inconsistent with the information that was expunged. If you claim to have been in Denver on a particular night, for example, a prosecutor might use your expunged arrest record to show that you were in jail in Oklahoma at the time.

A successful expungement proceeding could give you a new lease on life by opening doors of opportunity that had previously been bolted shut. Because of the importance of this issue, a “DIY” expungement is not advisable – you need an experienced Canadian County expungement attorney who is able to take advantage of recent changes in Oklahoma expungement law that might work to your advantage..

The Handley Law Center, a proud member of the exclusive International Society of Primerus Law Firms, is willing and able to prepare and file an expungement petition for you. If you wish to seek an expungement in El Reno, Canadian County, or elsewhere in the Oklahoma City metro area, call the El Reno Criminal Defense Attorneys at The Handley Law Center at 405-295-1924 for a free initial consultation.

The Legal Consequences of a Car Accident in Canadian County, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma City metro area experienced a high rate of traffic accidents compared to the rest of the state. El Reno itself recorded 300 auto accidents in 2013, while Oklahoma City suffered nearly 17,000 accidents. A great percentage of serious auto accidents occur on Interstate 35, Interstate 40 and Interstate 44 because of the high speeds and high volume of 18-wheeler trucks that use these highways. Regardless of whose fault an accident was, you may be directly or indirectly involved with civil or criminal consequences under Oklahoma law.

Criminal Consequences

El Reno, Oklahoma as well as all of Canadian County is governed by Oklahoma state law, and several different types of criminal liability apply to car accidents:

  • You can be charged with DUI even without an accident, and a second offense within 10 years is prosecuted as a felony.
  • If a DUI results in an accident that causes “great bodily injury”, you could spend up to a decade in state prison. Moreover, “great bodily injury” doesn’t necessarily have to mean a life-threatening injury – it could mean something as simple as a broken leg or even a less serious injury.
  • If someone dies in the accident due to your criminal negligence (including but not limited to DUI), you could be prosecuted for manslaughter, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Civil Consequences (Lawsuits)

If you are injured in an Oklahoma highway accident, you may have a legal right to compensation if the accident was mostly the other party’s fault. Oklahoma is a “modified comparative fault” state, meaning that if the accident was partly your fault, your compensation will be reduced by your proportion of fault – if the court rules that you were 25 percent at fault, for example, you will receive an amount equivalent to 75% of your damages. If you were equally or mostly at fault, however, your recovery will be zero no matter how high your damages are. In Oklahoma, you must usually file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of the accident to prevent your case from being be thrown out of court.

You can lose a civil lawsuit in Oklahoma even if you are acquitted in criminal court, because of the lower standard of proof that apples in a civil lawsuit (O.J. Simpson discovered this in California). Nevertheless, securing acquittal of a criminal charge is likely to work in your favor if you later find yourself a defendant in a civil lawsuit. If you are convicted of DUI as a result of the accident that led to a lawsuit, for example, you won’t even be able to escape personal injury liability by filing for bankruptcy – your bankruptcy discharge will not apply to the personal injury judgment against you.

Administrative Consequences

Your driving privileges can be suspended in the wake of an auto accident if:

  • You are convicted of DUI
  • You refuse to take a sobriety test after being arrested for DUI (regardless of whether or not you are eventually convicted of DUI)
  • You accumulate too many points on your Oklahoma driver’s license due to traffic violations – 10 points in five years will result in suspension

If you have been involved in a car accident in El Reno, Canadian County or elsewhere in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, you are likely to need legal representation regardless of whose fault the accident was. If you anticipate participating in a lawsuit or settlement wither as a plaintiff or defendant, or if you if you have been charged with a crime as a result of an accident, call the Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorneys The Handley Law Center at 405-295-1924 for a free initial consultation.