Fans of Oklahoma State football held their breaths on July 26th as defensive back Victor Johnson appeared in court to plead not guilty to a DUI charge. Johnson is a talented football player with a bright future, but his DUI arrest and a second arrest for possession could destroy all of that. A DUI is a serious charge in Oklahoma, with serious legal consequences, and should be handled by an experienced OK DUI attorney to properly protect the rights of the accused.
OKLAHOMA STATE FOOTBALL STAR’S DUI CHARGE
Johnson was pulled over around 1:00am on June 11th because his taillights were not working properly. But when the officer noticed that Johnson smelled like alcohol and was slurring his words, the officer decided to perform a field sobriety test. Oklahoma operates under what is called “implied consent law.” An implied consent law means that as soon as Johnson got behind the wheel of a car, he agreed to a test to determine if he was under the influence of alcohol if asked by a police officer. After performing the field sobriety tests, the officer decided Johnson was too drunk to drive and placed him under arrest.
This would be Johnson’s first DUI if he is convicted, but one DUI conviction in Oklahoma could permanently derail his life.
HARSH CONSEQUENCES FOR A FIRST-TIME DUI OFFENDERS IN OK
A first-time offender faces at least 10 days and up to 1 year in prison. In addition to jail time, Johnson is subject to pay a fine of up to $1,000. First-time offenders are also required to participate in a substance abuse assessment and evaluation and follow all recommendations made from the assessment and evaluation.
And those are only the consequences of the criminal case. A first time offender would also risk losing his driver’s license. The usual driver’s license revocation period for a first-time offender is 180 days. But if the license is a commercial license, the first-time offender will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for at least one year if the driver commits a DUI while driving a commercial vehicle.
Facing jail time, heavy fines, and the loss of a driver’s license may seem bad enough – but it can be much, much worse. All these consequences are if you are arrested driving with a BAC over the legal limit of .08 but under .15. If you are arrested driving with a BAC of over .15, then you can be charged with an aggravated DUI. A first-time offender convicted of an aggravated DUI will be subject to the usual penalties and more. The first-time offender will be sentenced to at least one year of supervision and periodic alcohol testing, 480 hours of community service, and use of an ignition interlock device for at least 30 days.
A DUI IN OKLAHOMA CAN HURT YOU NOW, AND IN THE FUTURE
If Johnson is convicted of a DUI, he will have to deal with the fines and jail time. But one DUI can follow him for the rest of his life and pose a serious threat to his future. If Johnson commits a second DUI within 10 years of the first conviction then he will have to spend 1 to 5 years in jail. For a second offense, there is no escaping time in jail. He will also be subject to pay a fine of up to $2,500. In addition to jail time and a heavy fine, he will once again have to take part in a substance abuse assessment and evaluation and follow all recommendations made from the assessment and evaluation. That means ten years from now, Johnson will still carry the consequences of his first offense.
Even if you are not convicted of another offense, a DUI can still hurt you even after you’ve done your jail time and paid your fine. Because a DUI is a criminal matter, it can become part of your permanent criminal history. That means every time you apply for a job and a potential employer conducts a background check, the employer will know about your DUI and may not hire you because of your criminal history. In this difficult job market, a DUI on your criminal record can be a hard handicap to overcome.
HOW CAN I KEEP A DUI FROM RUINING MY LIFE?
The simplest way to keep a DUI from ruining your life is to not to get one! But if you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, then an attorney can help you. As Johnson pled not guilty to his DUI charge, he had an attorney by his side to help him through the criminal justice process. An attorney can help a first-time offender understand what the charge means, what the consequences are, and how the criminal justice system works. An attorney can also help a first-time offender reach the most desirable end result of the criminal case.
A lawyer can also keep a first-offense DUI from following you into the future. There are multiple ways to keep a DUI from becoming part of your permanent criminal history, such as diversion and expungement. An attorney can help you figure out what legal strategy best meets your needs and help you keep one past mistake from becoming a permanent black mark on your future.
There are many considerations involved with facing a first-time DUI charge in Oklahoma. If you choose, you can seek the help of an experienced Oklahoma City DUI criminal defense attorney. Contact Atkins & Markoff today to schedule a free initial consultation.