Oklahoma DUI

Not Just Another Crime

Driving Under the Influence is not “just another crime” due to the profound effect it can have on a individual’s freedom, right to drive, family and work. This section will provide an overview of the DUI process in Tulsa County and what an individual charged with a DUI can expect. There are a several things that a person who has been charged with DUI needs to know before getting to the nuts and bolts of the case and that is:

  1. Driving under the Influence is a predicate crime, meaning that if a person has been convicted of DUI, and they receive another DUI within 10 years, the second DUI will be charged as a felony.
  2. A person’s driver’s license will be suspended if the person fails to request an administrative hearing within 15 days of arrest.
  3. If stopped for suspicion of DUI you have the right to remain silent, the right to refuse any and all of the states test, the right refuse a search of your vehicle.

Once a person has been stopped the Officer must have reasonable suspicion to believe that the person was Operating, or in Actual Physical Control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance. To establish reasonable suspicion the Officer will often cite facts such as the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, blood shot eyes and unsteadiness. If the Officer sees any of these signs he will ask the individual to step out of the vehicle and perform standardized field sobriety tests (walk a straight line, stand on one foot, rapid eye etc.). You have the right to refuse these tests.

If a person fails, or refuses to consent to, the field sobriety tests the Officer will, most likely place them under arrest for suspicion of DUI. Once under arrest the Officer is required to read the Oklahoma Implied Consent Law to the individual prior to asking them to submit to a blood or breath test. You have the right to refuse the officer’s request to a blood or breath test.

At this time the person suspected of DUI will be transported to jail where the test will be administered in the arrested person consents. The individual will be booked into jail and bond will be set. Tulsa County usually requires an individual to remain in custody for at least 6 hours, a sobering up period, before they will be released even if a bond has already been posted. Upon release the individual will be informed of the time and location of their first court appearance, which is referred to as the Arraignment.

The Arraignment is a very simple setting that I refer to as a “show up and say hi day”. The Arraignment is used by the court to inform the defendant of the crime that he/she has been charged with, and more importantly, to insure that the defendant is going appear. At arraignment the Judge will then enter a not guilty plea on the defendant’s behalf and set a new court date, which, in Tulsa County, is referred to as the Jury Trial Sounding Docket. The Jury Trial Sounding Docket setting will generally be within 30 days of the date of arraignment.

The Jury Trial Sounding Docket setting, or JTS, is an important setting because it is the first setting that the defense has a chance to negotiate with the prosecution in an attempt to resolve the matter. From this point the case will go one of three direction: 1) Plea Bargain 2) Motion Hearing 3) Trial Date. The decision on which of these options to take should be made by the person charged only after being advised by their attorney; this decision is up to the person charged and them alone.

Most misdemeanor charges are resolved through plea bargains. A plea bargain is agreement reached that provides a resolution of the case without the necessity of a trial. Plea bargains generally fall into one of four categories: 1) Straight Sentence 2) Split Sentence 3) Suspended Sentence 4) Deferred Sentence. (Please see SENTENCES for a description of the different type of sentences.) In some situations a plea bargain might not be the best option and that is when the case is set for either a Motion Hearing or Trial.

A Motion Hearing is used when there is an aspect of the case that the defense feels needs to be ruled on by a judge. For example, the defense might request a Motion Hearing to suppress evidence that resulted from an illegal search. The Motion Hearing itself is a mini trial on a certain issue or issues. At this hearing testimony will be taken and the lawyers will make legal argument to the Judge who will rule on the issue. If the Judge rules in the defenses favor at this hearing the case may be dismissed, reduced to a lesser charge by the prosecution, or the prosecution could decide to pursue the case minus the evidence that was suppressed. If the case is dismissed the accused person is free to go. If the case is not dismissed the accused person has the option of entering into a plea bargain with the prosecution or setting the case for trial.

The second phase of a DUI case is administrative and handled by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety. This portion of the case is the most important for the majority of people charged with DUI because it involves the suspension of the person’s driver’s license. To challenge the suspension of driving privileges a individual must notify DPS with in 15 days of the arrest that they are contesting the suspension and request a hearing on the matter. DPS will then set the matter for hearing and provide the individual with the date and location of that hearing.

Individuals charged with DUI might also be interested in obtaining a Modified Driver’s License. To obtain a Modified License and individual must fill out the appropriate paperwork and send it in to DPS along with a check for $175.00. A Modified License requires an individual to have an interlock device, Breathalyzer, installed in their vehicle at their expense and also requires a monthly service fee. The Modified License allows the individual to drive legally as long as the interlock device is installed. The Modified License will cost an individual approximately $1000.00 over a 6 month period.

Driver's License Suspension Chart

1st Offense DUI = 6 month license suspension
2nd Offense DUI = 1 year license suspension
3rd Offense DUI = 3 year license suspension

* 6 month and 1 year suspension are eligible for a Modified License.