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SB 643 increases DUI penalties

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin recently signed SB 643, which requires all people convicted of a DUI to use an ignition interlock for at least 6 months. Previously, first-time drivers with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher needed to install the device to maintain driving privileges, but now even drivers with a 0.08 percent will have to use the device to ensure public safety.

SB 643 does not take effect until November 1, unless it is declared unconstitutional.

Legal response to the bill

Just a few days later, a group of Oklahoma attorneys filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law. DUI attorneys contend that SB 643 violates a person’s due process rights. The attorneys have asked the Oklahoma State Supreme Court to decide the case without going through the lower courts. Whether the bill stands will depend on the ruling of the judges. There should be a ruling within 8 to 12 weeks but certainly before the bill goes into effect.

Current penalties for a DUI

No matter what happens with SB 643, it is obvious that Oklahoma is using everything in its power to reduce drunk driving in the state. The consequences for a DUI, even a first-time offense, are already severe. A first-time DUI is generally a misdemeanor, but carries a fine of up to $1,000 and 10 days to a year in prison. The penalties increase for second- and third-time offenses. A DUI with a BAC of 0.15 percent is considered aggravated and includes even more penalties.

In addition to fines and jail time, a DUI conviction in Oklahoma can also mean that you pay for mandatory drug or alcohol rehabilitation, go to a DUI school, complete community service or attend AA meetings. You almost surely will face higher insurance rates, too.

If you are facing DUI or DWI charges, you should not take chances with your record. It is important to talk to an experienced attorney who can help you find the best possible outcome for your situation. 

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