A county judge ordered a Tulsa man to serve a 10-year suspended sentence after he received his seventh conviction for driving under the influence. Although the driver has a history of DUI arrests extending back more than 30 years, the judge determined that a sentence consisting of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, inpatient treatment and probation was appropriate, as reported by News On 6. 

The defendant previously received a five-year prison sentence for a prior DUI in 2007. Before that offense, he had several DUI convictions resulting in suspended sentences, fines and community service after entering guilty pleas. After completing his most recent sentence of incarceration, personal issues involving his family resulted in his drinking a full bottle of wine on a daily basis. 

His most recent DUI arrest came in November 2017, when an Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer pulled him over for speeding and observed signs of impairment. The defendant failed a preliminary breath test that he agreed to submit to in his vehicle. After arriving at the Rogers County Jail, an Intoxilyzer 8000 blood alcohol test revealed a BAC approaching twice the legal limit of 0.08%. Sentencing was set for March 2019. 

Alternative sentences may include mandatory rehabilitation 

What may have contributed to the judge’s lenient punishment is the fact that the defendant’s DUI offenses have never caused any injuries or deaths. The Department of Corrections also provided a detailed pre-sentence investigation recommending rehabilitation through mandatory substance abuse treatment and regular attendance at group support meetings. The DOC document noted the defendant’s stated intention to continue with his program of mental health treatment. 

A strong legal defense may prevent incarceration 

A strong legal defense may help to avoid a DUI conviction or enable a defendant to receive lenient sentencing. Oklahoma is one of the few U.S. states that permits a judge to suspend a DUI sentence under certain circumstances. Instead of serving a term of incarceration, a judge may order a defendant to attend substance abuse programs and undergo rehabilitation treatment and counseling. Community service, fines and a license suspension may also replace time behind bars.