Oklahoma DUI Diversion: Addressing Dependence not Detention

Oklahoma DUI diversionPretrial diversion programs exist to help offenders receive treatment for the problem that caused the crime instead of just receiving punishment for committing the crime itself. Often, putting first-time, non-violent offenders into the prison system just compounds the problem and helps to create habitual offenders instead of discouraging future offenses. Pretrial diversion programs offer an effective and less costly way to handle these types of offenses and are proven to reduce recidivism.

Oklahoma’s DUI Diversion program is a pretrial diversion program for first-time felony offense DUIs. The state created this program to keep first-time offenders out of jail and help them get the treatment that they need. If you are eligible for Oklahoma’s DUI Diversion program you will be required to attend drug and alcohol counseling classes at your own expense rather than go to jail along with any other requirements that are applied to you, including an ignition interlock requirement. If you complete the program you will not be convicted of a DUI.

Not all DUI offenders are eligible for Oklahoma’s DUI Diversion program. You won’t be eligible if:

  • You have a violent crime conviction.
  • You have been in a drug court program in the last five years.
  • You have prior felony charges or convictions.

The information about the Oklahoma DUI diversion program varies from county to county. Your best bet is to contact your county diversion office or an attorney for the most accurate and current information about the necessary steps to participate in the program and if you qualify. A DUI doesn’t have to be a blot on your record forever, you can make restitution and receive treatment and gain a second chance through a diversion program.

There have been very successful diversion programs instituted across the nation that have statistically proven the truth of their effectiveness. Not all states have them, and within each state not all counties or districts have them. There are detractors who consider them ineffective or even unconstitutional. However, the rising popularity and quantitative proof of their usefulness has quieted many naysayers.

How Far Can an Oklahoma Underage DUI Take You?

Oklahoma underage DUIIt used to be that people would take a “kids will be kids” attitude toward any type of underage drinking. Unfortunately, that attitude has almost encouraged those same kids to drink and drive. Alcohol impairment and beginner driving skills are a deadly combination. Oklahoma underage DUI laws and penalties reflect the severity and danger of those under 21 who drink and then assume they’re okay to drive.

Even a tiny amount of alcohol can be enough for an Oklahoma underage DUI charge. Across the U.S., there are Zero Tolerance laws that forbid anyone under 21 from consuming alcohol. Oklahoma not only has zero tolerance for underage drinking, the state takes any attempts to drive under the influence very seriously.

Penalties for a first-time Oklahoma underage DUI include:

  • With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) under .08 percent: a six-month driver’s license suspension and a $500 fine.
  • If BAC is above .08 percent, there could be a six-month jail sentence, a fine up to $1,000 and a 30-day driver’s license suspension.

For a second Oklahoma underage DUI, your penalties increase dramatically. You could be sentenced to jail for up to five years (one-year minimum) with a $2,500 fine and six-month driver’s license suspension.

Oklahoma also requires ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenses, which means that your freedom to drive will be impacted, along with your parents if they own the vehicle you drive. However, there are DUI diversion programs that may allow you to expunge your record if you have an interlock installed and complete the other requirements of the program.

Steering clear of drunk driving is one of the easiest choices we have in life. While there are obvious temptations to drink, even if you are not legally allowed to, you are really making choices that can affect the rest of your life, as well as anyone else in your path.

Oklahoma Implied Consent and Your New Ignition Interlock Device

oklahoma implied consentIn the past few years Oklahoma has been cracking down on drunk drivers with more restrictive laws than ever. The state recently passed an all-offender ignition interlock policy for drunk drivers that includes even those offenders that are just over the .08 limit for intoxication. For a DUI suspect to even know what their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is, they have to provide a breath sample to law enforcement. That’s where things get tricky, because if a suspect refuses the test, they are in violation of the Oklahoma implied consent laws. With that violation, the suspect will experience those tough DUI laws first-hand.

Oklahoma implied consent laws are policies that you agreed to follow when you applied for your license. When you signed the document, you also gave your consent for your BAC to be tested if a police officer believes you are intoxicated behind the wheel. If you refuse the test, your license is immediately revoked for at least six months. After that you will only be able to drive if you have an ignition interlock device.

If you willingly submit a BAC sample and you are over the limit, your license is immediately suspended and you will have the same ignition interlock requirement. Oklahoma implied consent laws do not offer a choice, but they do offer others on the road the assurance that a drunk driver will be dealt with quickly.

Oklahoma is sending a message to anyone who feels they are “okay to drive,” that there is nothing okay about driving under the influence of alcohol. No refusals of BAC testing will be tolerated. Instead, any suspect or convicted offender can pretty much count on encountering fines, possible jail time, an ignition interlock requirement, and a first-hand understanding of the benefits of staying sober behind the wheel.

Is Oklahoma Ignition Interlock Expansion Imminent?

oklahoma ignition interlock expansionLast year, Oklahoma took a big step in the fight against drunk driving. The state’s IDEA (Impaired Driving Elimination Act) streamlined the DUI reporting process across the state and was a sign of more to come. Now, we are seeing just how much more the state had planned, once it was able to get a better handle on the number of DUI convictions a person has. IDEA essentially developed a central database of drunk driving offenses to assist the state in handing down Oklahoma DUI sentences accurately, and while there have been a few bumps in the road, that plan has clearly made way for even better laws in the state.

IDEA2, also known as Oklahoma Senate Bill 643 (and House Bill 1605) outlines stricter guidelines for Oklahoma DUI drivers, as well as expanded ignition interlock access in the state. Building on the central database of Oklahoma DUI offenses through IDEA, the state built a strong foundation for ignition interlock expansion and more.

Additional points of SB 643 include:

  • Expanding ignition interlock access for all Oklahoma DUI drivers.
  • Adding blood alcohol content (BAC) test refusal and test results as reasons to levy license reinstatement fees on a DUI suspect/offender.
  • Penalties for allowing a person to drive a vehicle without an ignition interlock, tampering with an interlock device and/or driving without the device as ordered by the court.

The Oklahoma House version of the bill has already been passed, and the Senate bill is headed in the same direction. All of this means that soon, Oklahoma DUI drivers will likely face consequences that befit their crime, rather than fall through the legal cracks and loopholes of the law as before.

Watching a state continue to make improvements for the safety of everyone is heartwarming, and we applaud the hardworking legislators who are making Oklahoma DUI laws that much stronger. Once the bill is passed by the Senate, the next step is for the Governor to sign it into law. In the meantime, we can all call and voice our support for IDEA2, and thank those who have worked so tirelessly to ensure that Oklahoma DUI drivers are dealt with in a responsible, respectful manner.

How Did You Get a Felony Oklahoma DUI?

Oklahoma felony DUIMost DUIs are misdemeanor criminal charges with strict enough consequences to prevent further incidents. Sometimes, even a first-offense DUI can be a bigger deal, which may be how you ended up with a felony Oklahoma DUI. Aggravating circumstances like child endangerment or a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of your arrest could increase your penalty, all the way up to a felony DUI.

The shock may be that any second or subsequent Oklahoma DUI is an automatic felony.

Not all states have felony DUI penalties that are so unforgiving. Colorado’s automatic felony DUI doesn’t kick in until the fourth conviction. California has the same policy. Other states use the third DUI as their line. Oklahoma, in contrast, takes multiple DUI convictions very seriously.

The state recently consolidated its resources in counting those DUIs, too, with the IDEA act. That law made it impossible for a drunk driving conviction to be left out in court, due to jurisdictional problems in the state. Now all Oklahoma DUI convictions are counted together, allowing a judge a full understanding of the person being charged, and the full responsibility of a felony conviction, ignition interlock requirement, and other consequences.

You ended up with a felony DUI in Oklahoma because you were driving under the influence of alcohol, a choice that put lives in danger. The state has been working hard for the past few years to streamline its laws regarding drunk driving, including implementing IDEA and relying on measures like administrative license suspension and an comprehensive ignition interlock program. The felony DUI conviction is just one more reason (and a big one) for you to plan to be safe when you’ll be out drinking so that you don’t end up with a felony at the end of the night, but snugly tucked away in your own bed.

Just Another Oklahoma DUI Problem

Oklahoma DUI problemsOklahoma has had some big issues over the last year, especially where drunk driving is concerned. On a high note, the state passed its IDEA act and will better be able to track DUI numbers accurately. That means that anyone with more than one DUI in the state will now face the appropriate consequences for a second or subsequent crime. Previously, a DUI wasn’t necessarily entered into a statewide database to be considered in court.

A second Oklahoma DUI means you’ll face:

The state hasn’t had an easy time in the last year with DUIs and the administrative challenges they place on state agencies. There’s a backlog of cases that need to be heard by the DMV, particularly those involving an ignition interlock requirement. That backlog is allowing accused DUI offenders the ability to continue driving without an interlock installed, potentially under the influence of alcohol again.

On top of that, a budget shortfall is forcing the state to reduce safety efforts through FY 2017. That means that despite administrative efforts to count those DUIs, there may not be as many officers to catch drunk drivers in the act.

Oklahoma has done a lot to increase the legal and administrative penalties for DUI, but with the additional challenges that progress has placed, there seems to be a long road to integrating it all together again. Until that happens, we can do our part to eliminate the dangers on the roads, too. If we have plans to drink, that plan should include a safe ride home, and if we notice someone is about to get behind the wheel while intoxicated we can do our part to get them home safely, or alert authorities that there is a drunk driver on the roads.

Losing Your License: Driving & Your Oklahoma DUI

An Oklahoma DUI means no driving, unless...An Oklahoma DUI may not be the end of the world, but it doesn’t mean you can forget the danger you pose and attempt to drink and drive again. With a DUI, you face more than legal consequences like court costs and community service. Your most cutting consequence may be when your license is suspended or revoked.

If you have a suspended license, you have one job: not to drive. Not everyone feels strongly about that, especially when there’s a perfectly drivable vehicle in a driveway and errands to run. Before you jump behind the wheel, remember that your DUI came with a suspension for a reason. If you continue to drive while suspended you run the risk of more consequences for disobeying a court order.

If your Oklahoma DUI came with an ignition interlock requirement on top of your license restriction and you are caught driving illegally, you have an even harder road ahead. Ignition interlock violations can result in further penalties, such as extended time in the interlock program or removal from it completely.

Of course, if you continue to drive under the influence, your fourth Oklahoma DUI will result in complete revocation of your license. That one is a lot more serious than a suspension and could turn into a lifetime of finding rides, even if you never intend to drink and drive again.

There’s a lot of reasons to remain sober if you’ll be driving, and while an ignition interlock, suspended or revoked license may first come to mind, those aren’t the top reasons. An Oklahoma DUI coats upwards of $10,000 for a first offense, plus too many fatalities occur at the hands of drunk drivers on the roads. On top of that, the state is cracking down on drunk drivers, increasing the efforts to track DUI numbers accurately and hold offenders fully accountable.

Losing your license may be the easiest part of an Oklahoma DUI, but even that should be enough reason to drive sober.

What the New Oklahoma DUI Laws Really Mean

New Oklahoma DUI lawsWhile Oklahoma is experiencing some legislative growing pains this year, once everything settles the state will be a much safer place to live, work and visit. The new Oklahoma DUI laws that were enacted this year have had an odd effect on a state that has only the best interest of its residents at heart. For instance, SB-58 has extended the time it takes to get an ignition interlock restricted license, while those with multiple DUI convictions (HB-2555) now have another step in their rehabilitation process: an alcohol assessment.

In short, the new Oklahoma DUI laws mean there’s more recovery time involved after a conviction is handed down in court.

New Oklahoma DUI laws have also been impacted by a problem with the breathalyzer used by law enforcement. It seems that some of the equipment used across the state was not up to the standards of the state, allowing for a legal loophole for accused DUI offenders. Fortunately, the accuracy of those breathalyzers was not in question, just some of the parts attached to breathalyzers. Moving forward, Oklahoma will only be using federally-approved devices with federally-approved attachments.

Fighting against the Oklahoma DUI laws is counterintuitive, yet people believe they have logical reasons to try their luck in court. Too many offenders want to avoid the installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device, the same tool that will enable them to drive legally and get back their “normal” life much sooner after a DUI. The backlog from these new laws has caused only contributes to the feeling that an ignition interlock and any consequences for DUI are arbitrary, and more hassle than they’re worth.

Really, the new Oklahoma DUI laws mean the state is serious about eliminating drunk driving. While there may be some hiccups and hurdles, once these new laws have the administrative support needed, there shouldn’t be a doubt in anyone’s mind about a plan to get home safely if alcohol is on the menu.

Another Oklahoma DUI Backlog Problem

Oklahoma DUI backlog problemWhen it rains, it pours… and when there’s an Oklahoma DUI bottleneck, a whole stream of new safety measures can become a bigger problem than before. Recently, the state passed the Impaired Driving Elimination Act to help streamline the DUI offender information in the state, but that database upgrade will take some time. In the meantime, people are finding their wait time for a court date and a DMV hearing intolerable, taking to the streets without the added protection of an ignition interlock device.

An ignition interlock device is required for most Oklahoma DUI offenses, either in court or through the DMV.

An administrative, DMV hearing after a DUI gives the alleged offender the ability to keep driving, as long as an ignition interlock is installed. If they choose to fight the ignition interlock requirement or license suspension, they have the right to an administrative hearing. Those hearings, however, are taking too long, resulting in lawsuits against the state that are actually increasing the wait time in court. In the meantime, an accused offender continues to drive without an ignition interlock, putting lives in danger each day.

It is estimated that a DUI offender has driven under the influence 80 times prior to an arrest.

The new Oklahoma DUI information law is focused on accurately holding offenders accountable for the number of crimes they’ve committed. That alone shows that the state is committed to increasing the safety of the streets and fighting drunk drivers. This new backlog, however, may need to have a similar plan to remove the bottleneck and streamline the entire DUI Process. An Oklahoma DUI is a big deal, but if an offender is kept waiting for their penalties, the nature of the offense is taken much less seriously, but with much more serious potential results.

Weird Alcohol Laws

Weird Alcohol LawsWith Election Day just a week ago, we started thinking about all of the crazy legislation that citizens vote into law. Here are ten of the weirdest laws surrounding alcohol.

1. Utah – Starting this year Utah put a state-wide ban on happy hour drink specials.

2. New York – You can buy wine, wine glasses, wine stoppers and corkscrews at a liquor store, but the state of New York prohibits them from selling wine gift bags. Sell a gift bag to a wine buying customer and you’ll be fined $10,000.

3. Colorado – Wine must be sold in containers of at least 24 ounces and spirits in containers at least a fifth of a gallon. But, at the same time, it also states that no alcohol beverage can be stored in hotel minibars in anything larger than miniature containers.

4. Oklahoma – Lager beer is not allowed to be served chilled.

5. Missouri – Anyone under the age of 21 who takes out household trash containing even a single empty alcohol beverage container can be charged with illegal possession of alcohol.

6. Nebraska – It is illegal for a bar to sell beer unless it is simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup.

7. Iowa – It’s illegal to “run a tab” in Iowa.

8. Indiana – It is illegal for liquor stores to sell milk or cold soft drinks. They can, however, sell unrefrigerated soft drinks.

9. California – No alcohol beverages can be displayed within five feet of a cash register of any store in California that sells both alcohol and motor fuel.

10. Kentucky and South Carolina – Both states ban alcohol sales on election days.

What weird laws have been passed in your jurisdiction?