When convicted of a DUI, many people resort to pleading guilty right away just to "get it over with." However, DUIs are very serious in Oklahoma. Even if you were drinking and driving, you shouldn't plead guilty if you are charged. Doing so has consequences that can affect you for a long time.
1. Pleading guilty is an automatic conviction.
When you plead guilty, you are essentially accepting the DUI charge without any chance to defend your side of the case. Penalties for DUIs are harsh and even first-time offenses can include fines, jail time and license revocation. This not only affects your current situation, but it impacts your future too.
A DUI conviction remains on your criminal record for 10 years. This means that a future DUI charge could have even harsher penalties for being a repeat offense, even if you haven't been convicted of a DUI for eight or nine years.
2. You can lose your license.
One devastating consequence of a DUI conviction is license revocation, which can last between 6 months and a year. Whether you have to serve jail time or not, returning to life without a vehicle is very challenging. It becomes harder to get to work, to run errands, and to go out for the night with friends. Difficulties with transportation can affect your financial situation and your general quality of life, especially if you have trouble getting to work.
3. You may not be guilty at all.
What many people don't realize is that proving guilt goes beyond showing that someone was drinking and driving. A lot of people convicted of a DUI plead guilty after a field sobriety or breathalyzer test shows that they were intoxicated. However, the police have to follow strict procedures for these tests and you can challenge the evidence if police administered the tests incorrectly or shouldn't have been able to test you in the first place. The results may also be unreliable due to internal and external factors.
Do not plead guilty just because you think a DUI conviction is inevitable. You may have more options than you think. If charged with a DUI, you should schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer to talk about your situation and the best course of action for you.