People under the influence of alcohol often make poor decisions and have slowed reflexes. That's partly why we drink, of course, to get away from our rational normal selves. However, the decisions that we make can haunt us for a long time to come when we get behind the wheel.
Here are some of the charges typically associated with DUI:
- DUI, Misdemeanor (no prior DUI/DWI/APC offenses within last ten years)
- DUI, Felony (one or more prior DUI/DWI/APC offenses within last ten years)
- DUI-Drugs, Misdemeanor and Felony varieties involving drugs rather than alcohol
- DUI with Great Bodily Injury (injured somebody in a collision of some sort)
- DUI Manslaughter (killed somebody in a collision of some sort)
- Actual Physical Control (not driving but merely in control of an operable motor vehicle)
- Transporting Open Container (alcoholic beverage opened)
Police officers are heavily trained to "detect" drunk or impaired drivers upon examination. Probable cause is required to initiate a traffic stop which is generally obtained by observing a common traffic infraction such as speeding, reckless driving, or failure to obey traffic signals, among other possibilities. Once the driver is stopped the officer need merely believe (and be willing to write in their reports) that they detect the use of alcohol to demand that the driver undergo the "SFST's", the Standard Field Sobriety Tests. If the driver does not satisfy the officer by completing the SFSTs satisfactorily then they will be placed under arrest and asked to take a breath or blood test. If the officer believes the driver is impaired by drugs then a DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) is brought on scene to evaluate the driver if the officer who stopped the driver is not one.
These tests only appear to be vaguely correlative with impaired driving. It is manifestly obvious that plenty of people are terrible drivers without the use of alcohol and at least some drivers do not drive dangerously while impaired. However vague the correlation is, though, it is illegal in Oklahoma to drive with a blood alcohol concentration above .08 (a CDL holder who blows .04 or above will lose their CDL even if they do not ultimately get charged with a DUI) or with any detectable amount of a Schedule I drug or its Metabolites in your blood.
This law and its enforcement are ridiculous since it both under-catches impaired driving and over-catches unimpaired driving. It is enforced in this manner because enforcement costs are low while the government gets a lot of money from enforcement because the typical offender does not really matching the profile of the typical criminal because he A) has a car, B) and insurance, and C) is more often a generally responsible person than the typical criminal. There are, obviously, derelicts who get blasted and drive so the law has support despite it's inefficiency in terms of public safety and justice.
There is also the issue of losing your driver license. One consequence of a plea or adjudication of guilt is that you will lose your license for a certain period of time. Be aware however, that a non-criminal administrative proceeding is also started against you the day you get arrested. if you fail to take action within fifteen days of arrest you will lose your license administratively regardless of the outcome of your criminal charges.
You are not a bad person for making a mistake and I advise everyone to avoid getting in this situation, but if you find yourself here anyway, give me a call and we can get it figured out.