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First Time With a DUI in Oklahoma? Here's What to Know

Kaylind Landes
9 minute read

There’s no excuse for driving under the influence (DUI). But everyone makes mistakes, and the truth is that DUIs are pretty common: According to FBI data, nearly 652,000 people were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) in 2022, including 8,574 in Oklahoma. Only arrests for drugs and simple assault were more common.

While there might be some repeat offenders, we’re willing to bet quite a few of these are first-time DUIs. And that’s a lot of people left wondering what happens next.

What Happens When You Get A DUI for the First Time?

You might generally know what happens when you get a DUI: You’re pulled over for a traffic violation, like rolling through a stop sign. After speaking with you, the officer suspects you’re under the influence. They’ll ask you to take a standard field sobriety test (SFST), which you can refuse to do.

They’ll probably also ask you to take a breathalyzer. You can refuse a breathalyzer, but it could work against you in court. The officer doesn’t need a breathalyzer to take you in for a DUI, so here’s what will happen next.

You’ll Be Arrested

An officer can arrest you on “probable cause” without an SFST or breathalyzer as hard proof that you’re under the influence. If your eyes are bloodshot, you’re slurring your speech, or your breath smells of alcohol, those all could count as probable cause. Your car will be towed and stored until you’re released, and you’ll be arrested and booked into jail. For a first-time DUI, your bail should be set quickly and will likely be $1,000 or less.

You’ll Be Charged With a Misdemeanor

Within a few days, you’ll attend your arraignment where you’ll be officially charged. There are many different types of DUI charges. As long as you didn’t damage property, injure anyone, or endanger a child, a first-time DUI will be a misdemeanor in Oklahoma. Here are the most common first-time charges and their punishments:

  • Driving while impaired (DWI) means your blood alcohol content (BAC) was between 0.06 and 0.08. DWI has the lightest penalties: Up to 6 months in jail, $500 in fines, and a 30-day license suspension.
  • Standard DUI means your BAC was between 0.08 and 0.15. This is also likely what you’ll be charged with if you refuse a blood or breath test. Your first DUI is punishable by up to 1 year in jail, $1,000 in fines, and a 6-month license suspension.
  • Aggravated DUI means your BAC was above 0.15. The penalties are the same as a standard DUI, but the judge can also sentence you to community service, additional counseling, and even inpatient treatment.
  • DUI-Drugs (DUI-D) means you were operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs instead of alcohol. It’s usually detected by taking a blood sample. The penalties are the same as for a standard DUI.

Your License Will Be Suspended

When you’re arrested, Service Oklahoma, the agency that oversees drivers licensing and motor vehicle services, will try to revoke your license. This is a separate process than your criminal case, which means your license can be suspended even if you haven’t been convicted. Here’s how it works.

  • The arresting officer will fill out an Impaired Driving Affidavit, which is submitted to Service Oklahoma along with your breathalyzer results.
  • Service Oklahoma will issue an Order of Revocation/Disqualification. They’ll mail you a notice of your suspension.
  • You can file an appeal to challenge your suspension. At your hearing, the arresting officer will need to prove the traffic stop was justified and the test results are good.
  • If you lose your hearing, your license will be suspended and you’ll need to enroll in the Impaired Driving Accountability Program.
  • If you win your hearing, your license won't be suspended. But if you’re then convicted in your criminal case, it will be.

You’ll Have to Enroll in IDAP

You don’t have to challenge your license suspension. If you accept it (or if your appeal is denied), you’ll have to complete the state’s Impaired Driving Accountability Program (IDAP) before you can reinstate it.

IDAP involves having an ignition interlock device installed on your car that you have to blow into before it will start. The length of the program varies, but is typically 6 months for a first-time DUI. Your notice of license suspension from Service Oklahoma will also contain information on how to apply for IDAP.

You Should Hire an Attorney

One of your first phone calls after you’re arrested should be to an experienced DUI attorney. Don’t wait until you’re charged – there are important things your attorney can do right away. They can help you challenge your license suspension with Service Oklahoma and enroll in IDAP. They could even get your DUI charges dismissed or reduced to something like reckless driving or DWI.

What Happens Once You’re Charged With a First-Time DUI?

The above steps usually happen quickly after your DUI arrest. Once you’re charged, you’ll enter your plea. You can plead “not guilty” if you want to fight the charges, but for a first-time DUI, it often makes sense to go for a deferred or suspended sentence. Here’s what will happen next in a typical first-time case.

You Probably Won’t Go to Prison

If you’re wondering what happens when you get a DUI for the first time, we’re willing to bet this is what’s really on your mind. While the maximum sentence is 1 year in jail, the good news is that you won’t be sentenced to jail time for the average first-time DUI. If you have a good attorney and no prior criminal record, you're more likely to get a deferred or suspended sentence.

A deferred sentence means that once you successfully complete a probation period (typically 18-months), your charges are dismissed. Your record will show you plead “not guilty” and your case was dismissed. With a suspended sentence, you’ll plead guilty, but jail time is suspended as long as you complete probation. Your record will still show a conviction, but you won’t go to jail.

You’ll Pay a Fine and Other Costs

Regardless of whether you go to jail, a DUI conviction will cost you. The fine for a first-time DUI is $1,000, and you’ll often have to pay at least some of that amount. This is another area an attorney can help: They may be able to negotiate a lower fine.

You’ll also have to pay court costs, which are fees the court charges for administrative actions like opening a case, filing motions, and issuing judgments on those motions. You’ll pay more court costs if you need to make a lot of appearances or file a lot of paperwork. Finally, if you receive probation, you’ll have to pay monthly “probation supervision fees.”

You’ll Have to Complete Classes

Whether you negotiate a deferred or suspended sentence, or you fight the charges and are found guilty, you’ll have to complete DUI classes as a part of your punishment. These classes are:

  • Drug and alcohol assessment: This is a session with a professional to evaluate any substance use issues you may have and recommend help. It can even be a good idea to complete the assessment before you negotiate a plea to show you’re making an effort.
  • Alcohol and Drug Substance Abuse Course (ADSAC): Your assessment counselor will recommend either a 10- or 24-hour ADSAC course based on their findings. It’s rare that they’ll recommend inpatient treatment for a first-time DUI.
  • Victim Impact Panel: This is a seminar where victims of drunk driving tell their stories. It’s required every time you’re convicted of a DUI.

The Bottom Line

The process of being arrested and charged with a DUI is pretty standard at first. But ultimately, what happens when you get a DUI for the first time depends on the choices you make and the skills of your attorney. Should you appeal your license suspension, or just enroll in IDAP? Will you be able to negotiate reduced charges, or get a deferred sentence? It’s important to have an experienced attorney in your corner to help you make the right decisions and get the best outcome. Contact the Tulsa DUI Guy to see how we can help you with a first-time DUI.