If you have unfortunately found yourself arrested/charged with a DUI or Actual Physical Control While Intoxicated (APC), you may wonder if and when your driver’s license might be suspended or revoked. This blog will hopefully answer some of your questions. As always, it is highly recommended you immediately contact a local and experienced criminal defense lawyer after being released. We offer FREE consultations and advice at (580) 249-9100.
In reading this blog, it is important to note that we are talking about an Oklahoma arrest/charge and a valid Oklahoma Driver’s License. If you have an out-of-state license, some of the procedures remain the same, but the ultimate ramifications may be different.
There are two ways your license can be revoked after a DUI or APC: through the administrative process, which is separate from criminal court, or through a “conviction” in criminal court.
Due to law change, a state organization called “Service Oklahoma” is in charge of driver’s licenses and records and not the Department of Public Safety. After being arrested for DUI/APC the arresting agency has 6 months to send Service Oklahoma notice of your arrest. If they receive this notice, Service Oklahoma will send a Notice of Revocation to the address they have on file (almost always the address you have on your driver’s license). IT IS CRITICAL, and in fact, required by law to update Service Oklahoma when you change address. I cannot tell you how many people come in after being arrested and they have not updated their address, and therefore do not get the notice of revocation (or other important notices regarding their license). You can update your address easily here: https://oklahoma.gov/service/sokonline/online-address-change.html
So, it is important you keep a close eye out on your mail for a letter from Service Oklahoma, as it contains important information. If you miss this letter, throw it away, your dog eats it, you moved without updating your address, or any of the hundreds of other excuses I have heard of not seeing it, it makes attempting to save your license that much harder. NOTE: You will receive all kinds of other solicitations dealing with classes and other things that LOOK official, but they will not be from Service Oklahoma. It will likely look similar to this:
Once you receive the letter from Service Oklahoma, it is important that you keep the envelope it came in (which will have the postmark) and that you READ IT. It has important information, including important deadlines. If you (or your lawyer) do not comply with these deadlines, your license is automatically revoked.
At this point, you have two choices: 1) to accept the revocation or 2) appeal the revocation. The length of the revocation is wholly dependent on how many other revocations you have had for similar charges. For instance, a first time DUI/APC is generally an 180 day revocation. Under current law, you are unable to “sit out” the 180 days and then get your license. In order to reinstate your license, you are required to enter into a program which will include installing an interlock device on your vehicle for the length of the revocation, obtain an ADSAC and follow all recommendations. These requirements are non-negotiable.
If, however, you would like to attempt to avoid the revocation, you may wish to file a district court appeal. The appeal must be filed within 40 days of the date on the order. Now, there are some issues with the way they are sending these letters, and there COULD be some wiggle room with regards to the dates (such as arguing it is actually 40 days from the date on the postmark), but if you want to be certain your appeal is processed, it needs to be filed timely. Talk to your lawyer if it is outside of the 40 days – they may advise you to go ahead and file the appeal, and put the burden on Service Oklahoma to prove they actually sent the letter when they did.
There is no clear timeline on when Service Oklahoma sends these notices out. I have had clients receive them within a few weeks of arrest, and others a few months later, and still others never. This causes a huge issue since there is no way to track if they have been sent, been received, etc…I have had some clients that have been surprised that their license has been revoked and they swear they never received the Notice of Revocation. This places lawyers in a predicament because if they file an appeal before the notice is sent out, many judges will dismiss the appeal as being untimely. I have often told anxious clients that the only way to be sure their license if valid, is to contact a tag agency or Service Oklahoma periodically to ensure there has been no action taken, or maybe to go through the expense of filing an anticipatory appeal, with the understanding the Judge could dismiss it until the Notice of Revocation is actually generated. Every county/judge is different on how they handle it.
Assuming you have received the Notice of Revocation, and you (or your lawyer) files a timely appeal, there will be a court date a few weeks later where a hearing will be held to determine if the State of Oklahoma should be able to revoke your license. Service Oklahoma is understaffed and overworked and appeals are often granted just on the lack of availability of witnesses or Service Oklahoma lawyers, and technical aspects of the case. If you “win” this hearing, your license will not be revoked (unless you get a criminal conviction – see below). It should be noted that an administrative appeal usually costs extra money, so be sure to have that conversation with your attorney. Further, public defenders that are not separately contracted, do not usually deal with D.L. issues, so even if you have a court-appointed lawyer in your criminal case, you may have to hire someone separate to help you with a D.L. appeal.
Assuming charges have been filed, you can also lose your license if you receive a CONVICTION for DUI/APC. If you plead guilty to a DUI/APC you will receive a DEFERRED Sentence (D/S), A SUSPENDED Sentence (S/S), or Incarceration. A deferred sentence is NOT a conviction, so if you receive a deferred, your license is not suspended in the criminal process (but still can be administratively – see above). However, if you receive a suspended sentence or straight jail time, your license will be suspended for the same amount of time it would be under the administrative rules (but not stacked on top of each other – you just get suspended one time).
The moral of the story is that these issues can be extremely complicated, and you need to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to guide you through the process. If you have a case in NW Oklahoma, call Faulk Law Firm at (580) 249-9100 for a FREE Consultation.
DISCLAIMER: This blog is current as of 1/1/2024. Laws change often, so if you are reading this at some point in the future, it may no longer be accurate. Contact us for more information.