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.
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.