Noble McIntyre on February 23, 2016
As we’ve discussed before, DUI (driving under the influence) can have serious consequences in Oklahoma. If you do find yourself charged with a DUI, the best thing you can do is to find a good Oklahoma DUI lawyer who can represent you.
The first thing that will likely happen following a DUI arrest is that you will appear in court for an arraignment. At this proceeding, the judge will ask if you are represented by counsel or if you would like a public defender. If you are eligible for a public defender (often, this depends on income), the judge would appoint one at that time and your arraignment would be postponed until you are able to appear with counsel. If you are represented by an Oklahoma DUI lawyer, but the lawyer is not present for the arraignment, the judge will likely reschedule the arraignment until you are able to be represented. You always have the option to represent yourself.
You will receive a copy of the police report, and you will be asked for a plea — guilty, not guilty or no lo contendre, which means “no contest”. One reason why it’s helpful to have a DUI lawyer is to advise you as to how to plead at arraignment. Sometimes, it’s advisable to plead not guilty at arraignment unless you are far from home and it would be impossible to reappear in court at that location. However, if it’s your first DUI offense, you had a high BAC (blood alcohol content) and the arresting officer testifies that you were driving erratically or committing some other traffic infraction, then it might make sense to plead guilty. If that’s the case, an attorney might be able to make arguments that would reduce your sentence. Sometimes, though, you will be subject to the mandatory minimum sentences and there may not be room for negotiation.
A “plea bargain” is a deal that a defendant can make with the state so that the defendant pleads guilty to some or all of the charges, but might be able to get a reduced sentence. Oklahoma does have mandatory minimum sentencing for DUI offenses, but you might be able to get closer to the minimum sentence than the maximum with the help of a skilled DUI lawyer. When you plea bargain, you’re asking to reduce the charge, which would then allow you to have a shorter sentence. You can also “sentence bargain”, which means that you would plead guilty to the charges, but negotiate the sentence. This is a trickier maneuver, and you don’t want to attempt to sentence bargain unless you know what your penalty would be. It is advisable to consult an attorney if you are considering this approach.
If you have been charged with a second DUI, you should have an Oklahoma DUI lawyer. Sentencing is much harsher for repeat offenses, and you likely will need a lawyer to represent you if you don’t want to receive the maximum sentence.
The thing to remember is that no two cases are alike. If a police officer or witness testifies that you were driving erratically and your field sobriety tests and BAC support that evidence, you are more likely than not to be convicted. However, if your field sobriety tests are inconclusive, there are no witnesses, and your BAC is on the lower side, it’s possible that a plea could help you avoid a DUI charge — a lawyer could help you reduce the charge to something like reckless driving, which is a less serious offense than DUI.
An Oklahoma DUI lawyer is specially trained and experienced in order to understand navigating the courts, when to make a plea deal, and what to ask for. Sometimes, it’s about more than simply understanding the law—a lawyer who has tried cases before the specific judge who is handling your case can also advise based on experience with how that particular judge tends to rule. That’s why the team at McIntyre Law will be your best defense in the courtroom. The attorneys know the Oklahoma legal system inside and out, and they have years of experience with its judges and courts.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Oklahoma, this is not the time to take your chances. Contact McIntyre Law for a free consultation and we will help you with every step of the process.