OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO) - When driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Oklahoma, the driver is charged with the crime and provided notice that their driving privileges will be administratively revoked by the Department of Public Safety. The driver's driving privileges are automatically revoked 30 days after the date the notice was provided to the driver.
If the driver wants to contest this revocation, the driver has the right to request an administrative hearing within 15 days from the date they received notice. If a hearing is timely requested, the revocation will be stayed and not go into effect. The driver has full driving privileges until the hearing is held and the revocation is upheld.
If the revocation is upheld, the driver may appeal that decision to the District Court. Again, if a timely appeal is made, the revocation is stayed and the driver has full driving privileges until the District Court makes a ruling. If the District Court finds the revocation valid, the driver may appeal that decision to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, where it will be assigned to the Court of Civil Appeals. Any revocation is stayed and the driver retains full driving privileges until the Court of Civil Appeals renders a decision upholding the revocation. If the Court of Civil Appeals upholds the revocation, the driver may ask the Oklahoma Supreme Court to review that decision.
Recently, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals determined that the amount of time it takes to have the administrative hearing, which can average between 10 and 15 months, is too long and violates the driver's right to a speedy trial. Currently, it takes approximately 12 months from the date of request to the next available opening for a hearing.
From a public safety perspective, these opinions will not necessarily have a negative impact because even if these revocations were upheld, state law requires that DPS stay any revocation of driving privileges pending a hearing or an appeal. If a driver appealed their revocation all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, they are permitted to drive the entire time, which in some cases could be up to three years, or even longer in extreme circumstances. The risk to public safety occurred when the person drove under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Also, most of the drivers affected by these opinions are not repeat offenders. Typically, a repeat offender will not qualify for a deferred sentence and is more likely to receive a conviction. If any of these drivers had received a conviction for the crime of driving under the influence, state law requires that their driving privileges be automatically revoked, even if they request an administrative hearing.
Ultimately, the Department of Public Safety is doing everything it can to reduce the length of time to have a hearing. Meanwhile, the Department strongly urges Oklahomans to simply not drive under the influence or allow friends or others to drive under the influence.