Oklahoma DUI Evidence in Court
WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO PROVE TO LOCK ME UP?
Elements of the Crime
I have always found that mercy
bears richer fruits than strict justice.
At the end of a jury trial, the jury is told what elements the Government must have prove in order for a person to be convicted of the offense charged. These elements are contained in the Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions. These are commonly referred to as the OUJI (wee-gee) Instructions. These OUJI instructions are developed by a committee and are approved by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
The instructions are not inclusive of every crime possible in the State of Oklahoma. However, they do include the elements for most of the major driving-alcohol related crimes. We do not intend to include all of the OUJI Instructions, just the primary ones that readers of this book will encounter. The instructions are not presented in any order other than the most relevant. If an element has several different choices separated by a forward slash, the Court’s intention is for the jury to be told the choice most relevant to the facts of each individual case.
Most readers of this book will have been charged themselves or had a family member charged with the crime of DUI. The elements of DUI are that a person are: (1) driving (2) with a breath/blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more/while under the influence of alcohol (3) a motor vehicle (4) on a public road/ street/ highway/turnpike/place or public road/street/alley/lane which provides access to one or more single or multi-family dwellings (5) the breath/blood test was administered within 2 hours of arrest (OUJI-CR 6-18). The fifth element is only included when a breath/blood test was administered.
Additionally OUJI-CR 6-19 provides that in cases where there is no breath/blood test, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was: (1) driving (2) a motor vehicle (3) public road/street/ highway/turnpike/place or public road/street/alley/lane which provides access to one or more single or multi-family dwellings (4) while under the influence of any intoxicating substance other than alcohol/combined influence of alcohol and any other intoxicating substance which may render a person incapable of safely driving a motor vehicle.
If a defendant is charged with Actual Physical Control While Under the Influence of Alcohol or other Intoxicating Substance (also known as APC), the State must show that the defendant was: (1) in actual physical control of a motor vehicle (2) public road/street/ highway/turnpike/place or public road/street/alley/lane which provides access to one or more single or multi-family dwellings (3) while having a blood/breath alcohol concentration of .08 or more/ while under the influence of alcohol/ while under the influence of any intoxicating substance other than alcohol or the combined influence of alcohol and any other intoxicating substance which may render a person incapable of safely driving a motor vehicle. If a chemical test was administered, then a fourth element must be given: (4) the blood/breath alcohol test was administered within two hours of the arrest. (OUJI-CR 6-20)
The lesser charge of Driving While Impaired (also known as DWI) requires the State to prove that the defendant was: (1) driving (2) a motor vehicle (3) with impaired ability (4) due to alcohol/an intoxicating substance. (OUJI-CR 6-23) It is important to note that it is not a crime to be in actual physical control while impaired. If a defendant has a blood/breath alcohol concentration in excess of .05 but less than .08, then the jury in deciding whether the defendant’s ability to drive was impaired may consider this evidence. However, the breath/blood alcohol test result can not be used solely to find impairment, the trier of fact (judge or jury) must also find that the person’s driving was affected by the impairment to the degree that the public health and safety were threatened. (OUJI-CR 6-24)
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals and/or the Oklahoma Legislature have defined, either by statutes, case decisions or through other OUJI Instructions, several of the terms used in the OUJIs. A motor vehicle has been defined as “every vehicle in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks. Unless a title or registration has been issued, vehicles moved solely by animal power, implements of husbandry, special mobilized machinery, or self-propelled wheel chairs or tricycles for invalids are also excluded.”
A highway is defined as “the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the public for purposes of vehicular travel”. A public parking lot is defined as a “parking lot on a right of way that is dedicated to public use, owned by the State of Oklahoma or a political subdivision of the State of Oklahoma”.
The term “driving” is simply defined as “operating a motor vehicle while it is in motion”. However, the definition of “actual physical control” is fairly vague and leaves a lot of room for interpretation. “Actual physical control” is defined as “directing influence, domination, or regulation of any motor vehicle, whether or not the motor vehicle is being driven or is in motion”. There is case law in Oklahoma that states a person can be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle even if he is sleeping or passed out behind the wheel of the car.
Another crime being charged more often is DUI Causing an Accident Resulting in Great Bodily Injury. This crime requires the State to prove the defendant: (1) caused an accident (2) resulting in great bodily injury to another person (3) while driving a motor vehicle (4) public road/street/highway/turnpike/place or public road/street/alley/lane which provides access to one or more single or multi-family dwellings (5) while having a blood/breath alcohol concentration of .08 or more/ while under the influence of alcohol/ while under the influence of any intoxicating substance other than alcohol/ while under the combined influence of alcohol and any other intoxicating substance which may render a person incapable of safely driving a motor vehicle, and if a chemical test was given (6) the blood/breath test was administered within two hours after the arrest. The OUJI defines “great bodily injury” as “bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death, causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or causes prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ”. (OUJI-CR 6-24, 6-35)
A recently enacted law added the felony crime of Child Endangerment when a person is committing the crime of DUI and has a child under the age of 18 in the car with him OR is the parent or guardian and allows their minor child to go with a person he or she should have known was driving under the influence.
It is important to remember that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime being charged. DUI-trained attorneys like your authors will look at each element of the charge and will force the State to prove each and every element of the charge before you are found guilty. If the State is not able to prove any one of the elements, the charge can be dismissed or you will be found not guilty.