When you face a drunk driving charge in Oklahoma, your driver's license is suspended. The license suspension process goes through an administrative process, which includes trying to get your driver's license back through an administrative hearing. Recently, a case was heard by the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals that could result in hundreds of people who are classified as DUI offenders getting their driver's licenses back.
The issue at hand is how long the administrative appeals process is taking. The Department of Public Safety system that is tasked with these proceedings has a backlog that is making some people wait up to two years for a hearing, which they claim is violating the right to a speedy trial. The recent ruling by the appellate court has found that having to wait two years is too long.
The Oklahoma Constitution notes that people do have a right to a speedy trial. While these people facing DUI charges often have their criminal case for the matter resolved fairly quickly, the administrative proceedings regarding their driver's license takes much longer.
In one case, a person faced a DUI in May of 2014. The criminal case was resolved in August of that year. The DPS hearing was set for July 2015, more than a year after the charge.
The ruling by the appellate court did note that keeping drunk drivers from being able to drive is crucial, but that doing so couldn't come at the expense of their right to a speedy trial. The ruling didn't note a specific time frame that would be considered speedy.
There is still a chance that the DPS could challenge the appellate ruling, which could further delay people getting their licenses. It is unknown if that will occur, but it is a possibility. Until more is known, people who are facing a revocation and DUI charges should learn their legal rights quickly. You only have 15 days to contest a revocation from the date of notification.
Source: News Channel 4 KFOR, "DUI offenders could get licenses back," Sarah Stewart, Aug. 15, 2016