There has been lots of publicity over a ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday, and much of that publicity has been misleading at best. Here is all you need to know about the case and how it effects DUI’s in Oklahoma:
- Your driver’s license case and your criminal case are mostly separate. They have different burdens of proof, different agencies that “prosecute” the case, different judges, different standards and so on. Your drivers license case can be dismissed, but your criminal case can proceed and vice versa.
- This case is not new. The actual case on this issue is called Sample v. State and can be found here. In that case, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals ruled that the Board of Tests (the agency that is in charge of the rules for the procedures they have to follow to take your blood and breath samples when arrested for DUI), did not follow the proper procedures under the Administrative Procedures Act when they tried to approve certain parts of the machine that is used to take breath tests in Oklahoma (specifically mouthpieces and gas canisters).
- The Supreme Court “denied cert” on September 26th, 2016, which means that they declined to overturn, or further address, the Court of Civil Appeals decision, in effect, making it law.
- The Department of Public Safety (the agency in charge of driver’s license cases) has known about this issue for two years, yet has declined to even attempt to go through the appropriate procedures to get these materials approved. This arrogance on their part is going to cost the state hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in lost revenue, but more importantly, will allow thousands of people with DUI’s to not lose their licenses or have to have an interlock (breathalyzer) installed in their vehicles. Great for my clients, terrible for public safety.
- This applies to every agency in Oklahoma. Some reports are saying they are only for highway patrol, or DPS. This affects every case where there was a breath test, regardless of who did it.
- THIS WILL NOT HELP EVERYONE. It is not retroactive, which means if your license has already been suspended, or you currently have an interlock on your vehicle, you are likely ineligible to challenge the admissibility of the breath test results and this likely will not help you. If you did not ask for an administrative hearing within 15 days of the date of arrest, this likely will not help your drivers license case. If you have followed my advice and asked for an administrative hearing within 15 days of being arrested, this will probably help you. Also, if you refused to take the breath test (the official one at the station – that I recommend most everyone take), this will not help you.
- If you took a blood test, the result could be dismissed as well. There is a separate case (Trusty v. DPS) where the State did not follow the proper evidentiary procedures and the test was set aside. There is also talk of certain materials that were not properly approved, as in Sample, however, those have not been ruled on yet.
- It is unknown how this will affect your criminal case. In some counties, the Courts have been routinely refusing to allow the admission of the breath test results. This does not necessarily mean your criminal case gets dismissed, but it does make it significantly harder for the State to prove their case. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is currently deciding whether this is correct or not. One interesting caveat to their ultimate decision: The Administrative Procedures Act and the rules of evidence are generally civil issues. If the Court of Criminal Appeals decides something contrary to what has been decided in Sample, we could be looking at a fight between the Courts, which most recently happened with death penalty issues a couple of years ago.
- Last but not least, if you have been arrested for Driving Under the Influence (or Actual Physical Control), CONTACT A LAWYER IMMEDIATELY. If you have any further questions, pelase fee free to contact Faulk Law Firm, PLLC at (580) 249-9100 for a FREE consultation.