Oklahoma is a bit of a state at odds. Its uninsured drivers is an issue that legislators are trying to combat with mandatory insurance and plate removal by officers roadside for no insurance violators. It is harsher than average DUI system of penalties would seem to cut down on highway and road fatalities yet the state’s fatality rate is 50% higher than the national average per capita and significantly higher per road mile driven as well. Its only congested urban area of note is Oklahoma City, ranked 19th nationwide for congestion is still well below the worst cities in the US.
Involved in an Oklahoma Accident?
With an “at fault” state, any accident you are involved in should be considered very seriously as to how you will recover damages. Even if you suspect yourself to be at fault, never admit fault in your initial statement to officers or to the other parties. Within a comparative fault system, your ability to recover partial damages even if you are at fault hinges on the ability of your car accident attorney to negotiate your fault percentage below the 50% bar rule set in the state.
Directly after an accident the standard rules apply, as in most US states. If the vehicle is still operable, move it from the flow of traffic after you have assured yourself and your occupants are not injured. After you have moved your vehicle, you should check on any others involved in the accident to see if they need medical attention. It is unlawful in Oklahoma and every state to leave the scene of an auto accident that has caused injury or death and results in severe penalties including felony charges. If only property damage was caused, in Oklahoma you must still stop at the scene, but failing to stop is considered a misdemeanor. This could cause the damages awarded in the case to triple, up to 1 year imprisonment and up to a $500 fine. Reporting an accident and remaining on the scene is important to avoid even harsher penalties.
Modified Comparative Fault
As an at fault state with a 50 bar rule for their modified comparative fault system, you need to be assessed 50% or less fault in order to recoup any expenses in relation to an accident involving injury, death or property damage. How the rule works, is if you are found 20% at fault for an accident, possibly because you were speeding or failed to stop adequately, your damages award will be reduced by the same 20%. However, if you are found more than 50% at fault, you will receive no award damages for the accident.
This is why it is important after an accident involving injuries or significant property damage to hire a car accident attorney and to refrain from making admissions of guilt. There will be a better time to make a statement, after you have received legal counsel.
Moving Violation Demerits
Like most US states, Oklahoma uses a demerit point system for traffic violations to ensure drivers are held accountable for their driving habits. Oklahoma’s system seems to have a short fuse and a long memory. In essence if you receive just 10 demerit points in an extended 5 year period, you could get a license suspension. Most state systems tend to cover moving violations in a lookback period of just 1 to 3 years and the total points for suspension typically is 12.
However, Oklahoma also has a natural point dissolution stage, which most other states do not use. If you have not incurred any points in a 12 month period, 2 points will automatically drop from your record. After 3 years without an infraction all points will be wiped from your record. These make the true cost of suspension essentially 10 points in two years.
DUI System is Harsh and Complete
Oklahoma is one of the few states that hands out DUI convictions for administrative and criminal proceedings for a BAC of just 0.05%, whereas the national limit is set at a minimum of 0.08%. Between 0.05 and 0.08% in Oklahoma and you will still face a 30 day license suspension, $1-$500 fine, and imprisonment up to 6 months, not to mention various DUI fees you will face.
For offenses over 0.08% penalties become very inclusive and quite harsh immediately. Although a first offense is still only a misdemeanor, its fine of up to $1000 and jail time of 10 days to 1 year can be quite severe for a first offense. With a lookback of 10 years, a second offense levels a felony charge, jail time of 1 to 5 years, a fine up to $2500, ignition interlock device, alcohol or drug assessment and evaluation and a number of administrative fees; making Oklahoma tough on DUIs. Implied consent laws also make refusing a chemical test cause for an automatic license suspension, even if you have not been drinking with suspension times of 6 months to 3 years.