Common Misconceptions About DUIs
When most people get behind the wheel of a car after having at least one alcoholic drink, they think they can drive safely. This may be because their blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the legal limit. Or it may be because they fail to recognize that their BAC may be higher than they believe it to be.
What is true is that in every case, law enforcement is looking for drivers they believe to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This vigilance is likely derived from the fact that drunk driving is common in Oklahoma. In 2021, 2,888 drivers were involved in alcohol-related crashes, with alcohol or drugs noted as the major contributing factor in 64% of them.
Of course, roadway safety is a key concern for everyone. However, so is the protection of drivers’ constitutional rights. Simply pleading guilty to DUI and accepting your punishment leaves you with nothing but a criminal record. You have a right to legal counsel and a right to fight charges of DUI. You should take advantage of both.
At The Handley Law Center, our DUI defense attorneys represent clients in Canadian County, Oklahoma, as well as those in Blaine, Caddo, Custer, Kingfisher, and Oklahoma counties. If you want to know why you should fight a DUI charge, we’re prepared to give you all the facts.
Oklahoma DUI Charges and Common Misconceptions
Oklahoma's legal BAC limit is set at .08% like most states. If you have a commercial driver’s license, the limit is only .04%. If you are under the age of 21, the limit is zero. In other words, any amount of alcohol in your system results in a DUI “per se.”
You can also be convicted of DUI if you have any illegal drugs in your system or if your ability to drive is impaired in any way.
If convicted, you face the loss of your driving privileges, fines, possible jail time, community service, drug and alcohol education, and a requirement that you carry high-risk auto insurance and install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
If you were unaware of the potential conviction penalties, you are not alone. There are so many misconceptions out there about DUIs. At The Handley Law Center, we are dedicated to separating fact from fiction. The following are just a few of the common myths about DUI charges.
"A DUI charge isn’t worth fighting."
A DUI charge is a criminal charge, not a mere traffic citation. Truthfully, any criminal charge is worth fighting. Otherwise, you have no other potential option but to have a criminal record that will follow you for years if not forever. You might lose your license, your job, or custody of your children. If you’re found guilty, you’ll also have to pay fines and maybe even face incarceration. Furthermore, a DUI will take a toll on your personal relationships. These are all reasons why you should hire a criminal defense lawyer and fight back.
"You have to submit to a field sobriety test if asked by law enforcement."
What you are and are not required to submit to under Oklahoma law is perhaps the biggest misconception there is.
It is true that you must submit to a test of your blood, breath, or urine if asked by law enforcement. That is the tacit agreement you make when you drive on Oklahoma roadways. If you refuse, you face the automatic suspension of your driver’s license which is a separate matter from DUI. You can be convicted for a DUI even if you refuse.
However, you are not required to submit to a field sobriety test. In fact, it may be in your best interest to politely decline to take one because they are rife with issues. Your refusal to walk the line, follow the officer’s finger with your eyes, or count backward from 100 cannot be held against you, but your performance on such tests can be used as evidence of impairment.
"I have to answer all the questions the officer asks me."
This is another key misconception if questioned by law enforcement about virtually anything. You have the right to remain silent because you have constitutional protection against self-incrimination. You should take advantage of that if questioned by the officer.
That officer will ask you questions such as “Where have you been?” “Where are you going?” “Have you had anything to drink?” These are all designed to get you to incriminate yourself. You should give the officer your name, address, and proof of insurance when requested. Otherwise, you should politely advise the officer that you will not answer any other questions without your lawyer present.
"You have to be actually driving to be arrested for DUI."
This is not true in Oklahoma. The legal standard includes driving and also “actual physical control,” which means you have the keys and means to drive the vehicle if you choose to. For example, you could be pulled off the road taking a nap in the backseat, and still be arrested for DUI if you also have the keys. That said, “actual physical control” is an issue your DUI attorney may be able to challenge.
Seek Out Skilled Legal Guidance
Never assume that everything you have ever heard about DUIs in Oklahoma is accurate. What you can count on if you are arrested for DUI is knowledgeable, experienced, and aggressive DUI defense from The Handley Law Center. We know the facts, and we’ll make sure you know them as well.
If you are facing DUI charges in Canadian County, Oklahoma, or the surrounding counties, call The Handley Law Center right away. We will help you fight back.