FIRST THINGS FIRST to have any chance to save your license you must act quickly. Under Oklahoma law you only have fifteen (15) days from the date of your arrest to request IN WRITING a hearing through the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.
LICENSE REVOCATION - “ANOTHER HEARING?”
A DUI arrest triggers two separate cases: a criminal case and a civil case. In Oklahoma, the civil case is handled by the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Many motorists arrested for DUI do not understand the relationship between their criminal case and the DPS case. In the past, both the court and the DPS could order license suspensions. Now, only the DPS can suspend a license, either because of an unsuccessful DPS hearing or a criminal courtconviction. In other words, even if the jury finds you not guilty, the DPS may still decide to suspend your license.
How is the DPS hearing different from a trial?
The DPS hearing following a DUI arrest is held at the DPS offices nearest to where the offense occurred or via telephone. Unlike court trials, which involve live witness testimony, the DPS hearing will focus on the various police and chemical test reports. Much of the evidence introduced at a DPS hearing is usually “hearsay,” that is, statements made by people who are not present at the hearing. However, the DPS cannot suspend your license on the basis of this kind of evidence alone. There is what is called the “hearsay rule,” which makes this kind of evidence inadmissible at trial. Although this is the DPS and not a court of law, your attorney can still challenge the evidence based on the hearsay rule, and if the evidence cannot be legally introduced, the DPS cannot suspend the drivers license. Your attorney can also subpoena or request the presence of a witness, such as the arresting officer, to appear at the hearing and testify. That way the evidence is no longer considered hearsay.
Another unique aspect of the DPS hearing is that the prosecutor and the judge may be the same person. In other words, the individual seeking to introduce evidence is the same person who will rule upon it. This person is not a judge or an attorney, but an employee of the DPS. The issues raised at a hearing include:
- Were you driving the vehicle?
- Were you legally stopped by the officer?
- Were you legally arrested by the officer?
- Did you take a test and was it done properly under the law?
- Did you have a blood alcohol level above the legal limit?
If you took a chemical test, there are three issues at stake: 1) whether the officer had a reasonable belief that you were under the influence, 2) whether the arrest was lawful, and 3) whether a properly conducted chemical test indicated that the driver had a BAC of above the legal limit.
If you refused a chemical test, it must be determined whether you were advised of the consequences of refusing the test, and whether you still refused the test after being advised of the consequences. If you lose the DPS hearing, the length of the license suspension may be substantially longer if you refused the test.
The arresting officer is required by law to immediately send to the DPS a copy, with a sworn report, of the notice of suspension or revocation and any drivers license taken into possession. The DPS automatically conducts an administrative review that includes an examination of the officer's report, the suspension or revocation order, and any test results. If the suspension or revocation is upheld during the administrative review, you may request a hearing to contest the decision.
You will become eligible to have your license reinstated and returned to you at the end of the suspension or revocation, provided you pay a reissue fee to the DMV and you file proof of financial responsibility. If it is determined that there is no basis for suspending or revoking your license, it will be issued or returned to you.