Oklahoma has been making serious changes to how it processes DUI information in the state, at least on a criminal level. However, it seems that as soon as one fire is put out, another starts burning. Fully penalizing Oklahoma DUI offenders shouldn’t be difficult. But now that criminal DUI convictions in Oklahoma will soon be accurately counted across the state, administrative processes need some tweaks. Especially since it can take longer to get a DMV administrative hearing for a license suspension than it does to get through the criminal DUI process in court.
A word about criminal vs. administrative processes. When you are arrested for DUI you usually face criminal charges – you have violated criminal law and must be tried in court. But you also have violated the terms of your driver’s license, which is not a criminal offense. That means you are subject to administrative penalties, imposed not by the court but by a body such as a DMV.
Oklahoma DUI law says that you have both criminal and administrative penalties to face after your arrest. The DMV is your first hurdle:
- You can either accept a license suspension for six months, or
- You can accept your suspension and then legally drive again after 30 days if you install and maintain an ignition interlock device, or
- You can challenge your suspension with a DMV hearing.
If you challenge your suspension, you may be waiting a long time for that hearing. Not only are DUI offenders able to drive as a result of the administrative backlog, but there are reports that some are repeating their crime and drinking and driving again. Some are even making it through their court hearing before they can have a DMV hearing. Having an ignition interlock installed means there are no repeat offenses, no further convictions and a future of freedom ahead. Oklahoma just needs to make that process faster, and soon.
We may joke about long DMV lines, but the time it takes to get an administrative hearing is putting lives at risk. Now that Oklahoma is getting the criminal side of a DUI streamlined, the next step is ensuring a speedy administrative hearing. That way, we close the loopholes, remove the uncertainty about a license and maybe even get more ignition interlock devices on vehicles driving along Oklahoma’s roads.