Oklahoma City, OK- An appellate court ruling earlier this week was a win for individuals who are facing a second DUI and now hundreds of offender will have their felony charges reduced to misdemeanors. That’s a win for some DUI offenders, but a new law change could result in more individuals.
A law, which took effect on November of 2011, required that second DUI charges, if received within the past ten years of a first-time DUI arrest, would be classified as a felony. This meant that some individuals who were charged with their second DUI offense after the law were charged with a felony even though their first offense occurred before the law went effect.
Denzel Salathiel, 60, thought this was unfair and took his case to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. According to News OK, Salathiel pleaded guilty to DUI in 2009, but had his charges dismissed after completing the terms of his deferred sentence.
In 2012, Salathiel was charged with felony DUI even though his previous charges were dismissed. On Monday, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals confirmed that Salathiel’s charges had been dismissed and stated that the law could not be applied retroactively.
The court did exactly what it was supposed to do,” said Doug Parr, Salathiel’s attorney. “They said this statute … cannot be applied retroactively.”
Prosecutors from Oklahoma County argued that the law applied to everyone regardless of whether their sentences ended before the law was enacted. Now with appellate court’s ruling, hundreds of second-time DUI offenders will see their charges reduced to misdemeanors.
While that is a victory for some DUI offenders, there a large majority of drivers who find themselves in a great deal of trouble now that a new law has taken effect.
The new law says that any driver who has any amount of a schedule one drug in their system can be charged with DUI.
Schedule one drugs includes marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines, which can stay in a person’s system long after the effects have worn off. This means that person can be charged with driving under the influence of drugs even when are not intoxicated and the effects of the drug have long worn off.
While some may say this is a good policy others say that is unfair to charge someone with a DUI if they’ve consumed a drug weeks or days prior to driving.
“The legislature, on the other hand, has determined that they don’t like people using drugs and just said any drug in your system impairs your ability to operate a motor vehicle, and that’s not right,” attorney Taylor Stein explained to KSWO.
Another law change in Oklahoma now makes it mandatory for people who are convicted or their first DUI offense to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. Oklahoma DUI laws are getting tougher, so offenders really need help with their charges. An Oklahoma City DUI attorney will fight for rights and do everything in their power to help you avoid a conviction.