When someone is arrested for a DUI in Oklahoma, one of their first concerns may be about what type of fines and penalties they could face or if they get to keep their driver's license. But if you hold a professional license, you may have to worry about how the charges will impact your careers as well.
The nature of Oklahoma's criminal law
In some ways, the penal code in the state of Oklahoma is complex. There are plenty of laws that place restrictions on which actions are forbidden in the state. In other ways, it is simpler than other states. While some states have several different classes of felonies, gross misdemeanors, misdemeanors, and petty misdemeanors, Oklahoma only designates two classifications -- misdemeanors and felonies.
While there are consequences for both, misdemeanors are far more forgiving in the long run. Most people are able to pay their fine and/or serve their sentence and move forward with their lives with minimal fanfare.
Felonies are more difficult to recover from. Convicted felons not only must serve their time, but relinquish many of their rights, including the right to vote, own a fire arm, and hold professional licenses. And if your career depends on your professional license, this could be life-changing.
How DUIs are classified
In order to determine whether a DUI can affect your ability to hold onto your professional license, you need to know whether the DUI is considered a misdemeanor or a felony. In most cases, a first offense is a misdemeanor, but subsequent offenses can be considered felonies.
In Oklahoma, if you have a second DUI conviction over the span of 10 years, it will be considered a felony which carries up to five years in jail, and a fine of up to $2,500, a second DUI felony can bring jail time up to seven years and a fine of $5,000, a third offense can lead to 10 years in jail, and a $5,000 fine.
A lawyer's role
If you've been charged with a felony, including a repeat DUI, having a lawyer who is experienced in plea bargaining and negotiation can be highly valuable. When lawyers review the circumstances surrounding a DUI arrest, many find that their clients were not properly informed of their rights, or that other violations in procedure took place that makes it possible to throw out the charges all together.
While driving under the influence isn't recommended, having the right attorney can make the difference between an offense being a dismissed or reduced, ruled a misdemeanor or a felony that may haunt you for years to come. You shouldn't have to lose your career over a mistake.