Many people use the terms DUI and DWI interchangeably when talking about drunk driving. However, in Oklahoma these are two separate and distinct charges.
- If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is shown to be .08% or higher, the charge will be driving under the influence (DUI)
- If your BAC is shown to be .06 or .07, the charge will be driving while impaired (DWI)
Impairment vs. Intoxication
Under Oklahoma’s per se statute, you are presumed to be under the influence of alcohol if your BAC is .08 or more. This means that the prosecution does not need to demonstrate proof of your physical impairment, as long as they can show that the chemical BAC test was inerrant.
However, if your BAC was .06 or .07, there is no presumption of intoxication. In this case, the prosecution will have to present evidence that your ability to safely operate the vehicle was impaired due to the consumption of alcohol. This typically includes witness testimony from the arresting officer.
Penalties for DWI
DWI is considered a lesser offense than DUI. A guilty verdict for DWI could result in a fine of up to $500 and/or a jail sentence of up to six months.
You could also be subject to suspension of your driving privileges for:
- 30 days for your first offense
- Six months for your second offense
- One year for your third and subsequent offenses
In a DUI case, the arrest triggers the possible license suspension. However, in a DWI case, the license suspension is triggered by a conviction.
Defending Against DWI
There are many ways for an experienced defense attorney to attack the evidence presented by the prosecution in a DWI case.
For example, in order for the DWI arrest to be lawful, the officer must have had a legitimate reason for initiating a traffic stop. If he or she did not have a good enough reason to pull you over in the first place, then the entire case could be thrown out.
A seasoned defense attorney can also attack the results of the field sobriety tests, the way in which they were administered, and any other alleged evidence of impairment presented by the state.
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