A new law passed by the Oklahoma legislature and signed into law by Governor Fallin will toughen the penalties that DUI defendants will face if convicted. HB 3146 - the "Impaired Driving Elimination Act" - will make it easier for courts to impose longer sentences and increased fines for multiple DUI convictions by only allowing courts that are considered "courts of record" to hear DUI cases.
Previously, any municipal court in Oklahoma had the jurisdiction to hear a DUI criminal case. The issue addressed by the new law is that, currently, only the municipal courts in Oklahoma City and Tulsa are considered "courts of record," meaning that convictions in those courts go on record and are used to enhance the penalties imposed for subsequent convictions. The other 350+ municipal courts in Oklahoma were not courts of record, and so a DUI conviction in one of those municipal courts would not be used by a judge in a later DUI case in determining a penalty.
Under the new law, municipal courts that are not "courts of record" may not hear DUI cases, and must transfer DUI cases to a district court which will put any conviction on record. Municipal courts that are not currently courts of record will have the option to become courts of record.
Defendants Will Face Tougher Penalties Under the Law
The result of this new law is that defendants who are arrested for a repeat DUI offense have a much higher likelihood of facing stricter penalties if convicted. Under Oklahoma's DUI laws, first time offenders for DUIs face the following penalties:
- 5 days to 1 year in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- License suspension of 30 days
While these penalties are certainly the types of consequences that anyone would like to avoid, it is important to keep in mind that the penalties for a 2nd and 3rd DUI offense become much more strict than for a 1st offense. These penalties include:
- Enhanced Jail Time: 2nd time DUI offenders face between 1 and 5 years in prison, and 3rd time offenders face up to 10 years in prison.
- Increased Fines: 2nd time offenders can pay up to $2,500 in fines and 3rd time offenders may owe up to $5,000.
- Longer Suspensions: Your license can be suspended for 6 months for a 2nd offense and 1 year for a 3rd offense.
- Ignition Interlock Devices: Repeat offenders can be required to have the devices installed on any vehicle they use.
Work With an Experienced Oklahoma DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for a DUI violation in Oklahoma, you may be facing serious consequences if convicted, not to mention damage to your personal and professional reputation. J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, is a criminal defense attorney in Oklahoma City with years of experience in obtaining dismissals in DUI matters. Contact him today to schedule a consultation regarding your DUI matter.