With fall fading into winter, the holiday season is upon us. With it comes a host of social situations that often involve alcohol. Whether you're enjoying a beer during the Thanksgiving Day football game or quaffing cocktails at your office holiday party, you should know that getting behind the wheel with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher could cause a legal headache worse than any hangover.
There are a lot of potential consequences related to a conviction of a driving under the influence (DUI) offense. Some of these are social consequences, such as losing your job or paying a lot more for motor vehicle liability insurance. Other consequences are a result of criminal court, including a criminal record, massive fines and time in jail. Given how much you could lose with a guilty plea or a conviction, it makes sense to minimize your risk by planning ahead.
Enforcement increases during the holiday season
Most law enforcement professionals understand that there is more temptation to drink and drive around the holidays than the rest of the year. There's family drama and get-togethers that push some to self-medicate with alcohol. There are parties galore, as well as increased stress levels from spending money and planning holiday events.
In order to offset the increased potential for drunk driving around the holidays, police agencies often step up enforcement efforts around holidays and the weekends that fall right before and after them. Enforcement could look like a lot more patrol vehicles on the road when the sun goes down. It could also result in roadside sobriety checkpoints. The only way to definitely avoid them is to avoid getting behind the wheel of a car. Calling a cab or using a ride-sharing app can save you money, stress and legal trouble.
Oklahoma DUI penalties can haunt you for years
Holiday offenders won't get extra lenient treatment by the courts. Those charged with their first DUI offense typically face misdemeanor charges, so long as there weren't kids in the vehicle and no one ended up hurt. If you plead guilty or get convicted, you're looking at between 10 days and a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. For those with previous DUI convictions with the last ten years, the penalties increase. The charges may also jump from misdemeanor to felony charges.
For a second offense or first felony DUI offenses, the likely penalties include between one and five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. A second felony DUI offense carries a minimum of one year in jail but a maximum of ten, as well as a fine of $5,000. You'll also likely have your license suspended for several months or even a year or longer. You can't just refuse the test. State law mandates that drivers submit if police have reason to believe they are impaired. Your best option is to avoid getting behind the wheel after drinking.