Driving under the influence (DUI) or alcohol or drugs – also referred to as driving while intoxicated (DWI) – is a serious criminal offense that poses equally serious criminal penalties. From hefty fines, possible terms of imprisonment, probation, court ordered classes, driver’s license suspensions and other potential repercussions that come with having a criminal conviction on one’s record, the consequences of a DUI are nothing to take lightly. While cases will always vary on an individual, case by case basis, a majority of DUI charges are typically prosecuted as misdemeanors. There are, however, a few circumstances and situations that may result in a DUI being prosecuted as a felony. In Oklahoma, individuals may be charged with a felony DUI if certain aggravating circumstances are present in their case. Examples of the circumstances that can result in a felony DUI include:
Convictions for multiple DUIs are among the most common ways in which a driver can face felony charges for DUI. In Oklahoma, any person who is charged with driving under the influence within 10 years of a conviction in a court of record can be charged with a felony offense. This means that a second DUI within 10 years of a prior DUI conviction is a felony. Oklahoma is extremely harsh in this regard, as many states do not impose felony charges until a driver has been convicted of three or even four DUIs. Felony DUIs carry a minimum term of imprisonment of one year and a maximum of 5, 10, or 20 years, depending on the facts inherent to a case. If you or your loved one is facing DUI allegations and have already been convicted of a DUI within the past 10 years, it is vital that you seek experienced representation to defend against heightened charges and penalties.
DUI Child Endangerment
In 2009, the state of Oklahoma passed a new law making it a felony offense to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child passenger. As many courts, prosecutors, and judges view DUIs with child endangerment as an extremely negligent act, they offer little leniency to those who stand accused. If accused of DUI with a minor passenger, convicted individuals can face terms of imprisonment as high as five years, even if the DUI was their first offense. Additionally, the non-driving parent may also face criminal charges if they knew, or should have known, that their spouse was intoxicated when driving their child.
When a motorist driving under the influence is involved in an accident that causes the death of another, they may be charged with manslaughter. A felony offense, manslaughter is perhaps the most serious DUI allegation once can face. If convicted, penalties can include large fines and terms of imprisonment that range from a minimum of four years to a maximum of life in prison. Prior DUI convictions may also result in longer terms of imprisonment.
As DUI cases can vary considerably, it is of the utmost importance that you allow an Oklahoma DUI attorney from Atkins & Markoff to personally review your case as soon as possible. Our legal team can inform you about the charges you face, whether you may be prosecuted for a misdemeanor or felony offense, and the penalties you can expect. Additionally, we can explain precisely what we can do to defend against your allegations and how we can fight to protect your freedom and future. Contact Atkins & Markoff to learn more about your DUI defense.