To be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Oklahoma, your blood alcohol content (BAC) level must reach or exceed .08% during a traffic stop test. The .08% threshold is the equivalent of about four to five drinks, which means you’re intoxicated enough that it has potentially impacted your driving behavior.
But what happens if you go way over .08%? If your BAC during a roadside test hits .15% or higher, the officer who pulled you over can charge you with aggravated DUI. How is an aggravated DUI different from a regular DUI charge?
State law on aggravated DUI
Per Oklahoma law, an officer can charge anyone driving intoxicated with a BAC of .15% with aggravated DUI. Drivers convicted of aggravated DUI not only face similar penalties as those convicted of regular DUI, but also additional punishments.
On top of the fines, jail time and license suspensions a driver must deal with for a DUI conviction, those with an aggravated DUI conviction must also comply with any court recommendations for alcohol abuse treatment. In addition, the driver must participate in driver supervision and periodic alcohol testing for at least a year. A court will also require them to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle, regardless of whether it’s their first DUI offense or third.
Why are there more penalties for higher BAC levels?
While alcohol can have varying effects on different people, many agree that sufficient intoxication levels can impair drivers’ cognitive and reaction capabilities. By law, impairment begins at .08% BAC, since many drivers at that point have difficulty concentrating, and their inebriation impacts their ability to see and hear. But if a driver’s BAC goes even higher, their chances of impairment and collision risk also increase, which is why the law is harsher on more drunk people.
By .15% BAC, a driver’s sense of balance and control is potentially impaired. Their ability to quickly respond to changing driving conditions and make snap decisions during an emergency hypothetically also takes a hit. They could even take impulsive actions on the road because their alcohol levels have lowered their inhibitions.
Even if you tried to operate your vehicle as safely as possible without hitting other cars or obstacles, an officer could still charge you with aggravated DUI for as long as your BAC is .15% and above. If you’re called to court over an aggravated DUI, you might want to consider legal counsel to understand your situation better.