Log Rolling, Due Process Violations Nixed
The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s Dec. 19, 2017 decision to overturn the Oklahoma legislatures sweeping 2017 DUI law means more uncertainty for thousands of Oklahoma residents accused of drunken driving. The law sought to remedy chronic flaws in drivers license revocation procedures.
Yet we do not fault the court for upholding Oklahoma’s Constitution. Our state’s framers made it clear: the legislature will consider each new law on its own merits. Log-rolling multiple new laws into one bill will not fly. Our state’s highest court agreed.
The court overturned all of Senate Bill 643 before it even took effect. The bill had reached far beyond simple changes to DUI law to require drivers license revocations for several traffic offenses, including passing a stopped school bus.
The bill had proposed a new Impaired Drivers Accountability Program that steered drivers arrested for DUI into a diversion-type program where they would forego the opportunity to legally challenge drivers license revocations. Meanwhile, the new law repealed most provisions for court hearings before a drivers license could be revoked.
In addition to overturning the entire law as a violation of our constitutions single-subject rule, Justices singled out that section for particular attention. Seizure and destruction of drivers licenses without a hearing violates the Due Process Clause of the Oklahoma Constitution.
Revocation Hearing Backlogs
The ruling means the DPS remains without a viable remedy for years of legal blunders that have resulted in an insurmountable backlog of revocation hearings.
The agency first issued faulty revocation affidavits, and dragged its feet in updating language until its poor judgment was finally put to rest on appeal. Then came a new computerized breathalyzer machine — the Intoxylizer 8000 — for which the agency repeatedly failed to lawfully adopt administrative procedures.
Finally, courts systematically overturned revocation decisions on speedy trial violations after the series of blunders resulted in thousands of backlogged revocation hearings.
Today’s decision drives home the fact that the state’s top law enforcement agency needs to return to square one where administrative procedures related to DUI are concerned. The agency needs to dismiss backlogged revocation hearings to make room on dockets for drivers newly accused and entitled to speedy trials.
Meanwhile, DPS needs to lawfully promulgate rules for a viable breathalyzer device that provides the accused an opportunity to confront accusers, and then proceed with the very important business of keeping impaired drivers off of Oklahoma highways.
Free Consultation: Tulsa Attorney
If you have questions about Oklahoma DUI law and the process for revoking drivers licenses in Oklahoma, contact the Tulsa attorneys at Wirth Law Office for a no-cost, confidential consultation. Call (918) 879-1681. Media inquiries are welcomed.