There are numerous criminal charges that Oklahoma prosecutors can pursue against someone accused of intoxication at the wheel. Those with a slightly elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) who are not technically over the legal limit might face driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges. Those with a BAC of over 0.08% and those who demonstrate obvious impairment at the wheel could face driving under the influence (DUI) charges.
DUI charges are typically more serious than DWI charges, and they can lead to a variety of different penalties depending on the circumstances at the time of someone’s arrest and their prior Criminal record. The severity of the penalties and the impact of a criminal record will vary depending on whether the state pursues felony or misdemeanor charges against a criminal defendant.
DUI arrests often lead to misdemeanor charges
Someone just arrested for a technical violation of the law based on their BAC or who drove poorly prior to a traffic stop would typically face misdemeanor charges. First-time DUI charges will usually be misdemeanor offenses, provided that someone stopped by the police and didn’t actually cause any harm to others.
Prosecutors may have the option of pursuing felony charges after an impaired driving arrest in a handful of situations. The criminal charges that usually follow a scenario in which someone injured or killed another person in a drunk driving crash will be felony charges. Those who have children in the vehicle or who have a BAC of 0.15% or higher might also face felony charges.
Prosecutors can also pursue felony charges against those who have prior DUI convictions on their records. Oklahoma typically utilizes a 10-year lookback period, so a second arrest within a decade of the first or any subsequent arrests could potentially lead to felony charges. Prior deferred charges could also trigger a felony charge when someone is arrested for a repeat offense.
A felony DUI offense will result in the risk of more serious penalties than a misdemeanor charge and a felony conviction will also trigger more scrutiny during a background check. Understanding how the state handles impaired driving allegations against a motorist can help those who have been arrested more effectively prepare to defend against charges in criminal court.