Oklahoma DUI – DPS Hearing versus DUI Conviction

Oklahoma citizens charged with a DUI are required to surrender their driver’s license subject to an administrative hearing before the Department of Public Safety, the state agency that grants people a license to drive.  This procedure is separate from the underlying charge for the criminal act of DUI. The difference can often lead to confusing results.

For example, if a person charged with DUI successfully defends the legality of the stop before the DPS hearing officer, DPS can return the license, and the person may resume driving under most circumstances.  However, prevailing before the DPS officer does not dispose of the underlying criminal charge for DUI.

While the DPS hearing is administrative in nature, e.g. an action involving an administrative agency, the DUI charge remains a criminal action subject to criminal penalties. A recent opinion from the Oklahoma Court of Appeals recently addressed the difference:

The focus of the hearing in the driver’s license revocation appeal was on the issue of licensing requirements, not criminal prosecution. The ultimate issues to be resolved in a driver’s license revocation appeal and a criminal prosecution are not the same.

See State v. Hooley, 2012 OK CR 3, Para. 23.

People facing a DUI charge in Oklahoma need to understand the difference between the administrative and criminal aspects of the proceedings. The two processes are not the same, and prevailing in one area does ensure victory in the other.  Each sytem has a different appeals process and a different burden of proof. Understanding the difference could mean a substantial modification in the penalties that follow DUI charges.

If you have questions about DUI or DUI laws, contact the Oklahoma personal injury attorneys at Bryan & Terrill Law to discuss your options.