When you’re stopped on suspicion of DUI, your first instinct — and wisely so — might be to ask for a lawyer. Unfortunately, Oklahoma courts have ruled that you can only ask for an attorney after you’re arrested and in custody.
The First Day: The traffic stop, arrest and booking
At the roadside, you’re on your own, so it’s crucial that you know the rules. You should speak as little as possible. As a practical matter, most of the important questions you’ll be asked can be answered with a simple yes or no. Others you don’t have to answer at all, such as “How much have you had to drink?” It’s best that you politely decline to respond to such questions because whatever you say will later be repeated in court.
About Those Tests
One of the first decisions you’re going to have to make on your own is whether to take a field sobriety test. You’re not legally required to do this in Oklahoma, so unless you’re sure you can ace it, you might want to calmly decline. There will be payback, of course. You’ll almost certainly be arrested, but if you’ve been drinking and the officer can smell alcohol on you, you’ll most likely be arrested anyway. By declining, you give the state less evidence to use against you later. Roadside sobriety tests are not clinical. They’re not exact. They’re subjective, dependent on the police officer’s perspective. You could walk a perfectly straight line, but if the arresting officer believes you’ve been drinking, he’s going to see you wobble.
Use time wisely
The next issue is whether or not you’re going to take a blood-alcohol test. If you do not take it, your right to drive in the coming months or years will be impacted, so you want to submit to the test. But do so wisely.
Under Oklahoma law, the police have two hours after arresting you — not just pulling you over — to administer this test. The closer you get to this two-hour limit, the better off you’ll be because the alcohol in your blood is going to be metabolizing all this time. If the officers want to administer a blood-alcohol test on the roadside, request that it take place at the station. After you take it, you have the right under Oklahoma law to request another of your own — not given by law enforcement, but by an independent medical professional at a local hospital. This can provide useful evidence for your attorney.
The Next Day: Picking up the pieces
How Are You Going to Get to Work?
If you want to keep driving, you have a few more steps to take after your arrest. The police will take your driver’s license while you’re in custody, but they’ll give you an affidavit in its place. The affidavit acts as a temporary license so you can get to work the next day, assuming your car hasn’t been impounded. If it has, you’ll have to visit police headquarters to get it back. You’ll need your title, registration, the affidavit, and the case number of the police report. The affidavit lets you drive until you attend a hearing with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety to ask for a modified license. You have 15 days to request the hearing. If you don’t, your driving privileges will be suspended on the 16th day. Installing an ignition interlock device is a condition of an Oklahoma modified license. As long as you haven’t been drinking, you can blow into the device, start your car and drive anywhere.
Will You Still Have a Job To Go To?
Most of the time, what happens on your own time is your own business. This includes arrests.
However, depending on the circumstances of your job, such as if you are regularly required to operate a vehicle during the course of your workday, you might be compelled to divulge your arrest and depending on your company’s policy, this could lead to your termination. Also, in Oklahoma even you don’t regularly operate a vehicle in the course of your work, your company may have a (perfectly legal) policy in place that compels you to inform your employer if you are arrested for certain crimes. Even then, lying to your employer is never a good idea. If your employer asks pointblank about your DUI, be honest.
Negotiating the steps you need to take following a DUI arrest can be tricky, but you can avoid taking missteps by enlisting the help of a lawyer who knows the ropes.
Call Laird Hammons Laird at (405) 703-4567 for a consultation so we can help guide you and prevent an unfortunate situation from turning into a nightmare.