Your semester at the University of Oklahoma is in full swing, and you are probably in a rhythm of classes, study, work and fun. No doubt your fun includes hanging out with friends, attending mixers and testing your freedom away from Mom and Dad.
Unfortunately, if you did not make plans for a safe ride home, your fun can quickly turn sour if you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Don’t let your friends tell you a DUI is no big deal. In fact, an arrest for any offense can have long-term and far-reaching consequences that might very well affect the rest of your life.
A DUI can follow you for years
Oklahoma DUI penalties are among the strictest in the country, with a first offense carrying a mandatory jail sentence if a court convicts you. However, even if a lenient judge defers your jail sentence, that is not likely the end of your punishment. You may face up to $9,000 in total fines and fees, license suspension, and other legal and administrative penalties to deal with. This does not even include the collateral consequences of a DUI conviction, including the following:
- The inconvenience or expense of finding rides while your license is under suspension
- The ongoing stress of resolving the prolonged judicial process
- Substantially higher auto insurance premiums – that is, if you can find someone to insure you
- The potential loss of influence or respect among your peers, professors and family members
- The amount of time you will spend in court or dealing with legal matters, probation, alcohol counseling or classes, license reinstatement, and any other penalties the court imposes
- Limitations to your job opportunities, including the potential disqualification from certain professional licensing programs
Your school may impose its own sanctions on you, which may include loss of scholarships or other penalties. Depending on your course of study, a DUI may affect whether you can continue in that track. Additionally, if you are convicted and must spend time in jail, you will fall behind in your courses, which could make it challenging to meet your academic goals.
Your future is on the line
Of course, this may not even scratch the surface if your DUI arrest includes charges of bodily injury if you were involved in an accident. A conviction for charges in such circumstances could be disastrous for your future, barring you from many opportunities and stripping you of your goals and ambitions.
Whether you are facing these serious criminal charges or the penalties of a first-offense DUI, you have a lot in the balance. Dealing with these circumstances without the skillful representation of an attorney may jeopardize your chances of obtaining the most positive outcome possible.