Historically, an individual arrested for DUI in Oklahoma automatically has his or her license suspended. The suspension process involves an administrative proceeding with the Department of Public Safety, while the DUI itself is handled by the criminal courts. After a first offense, a driver can have his license revoked for up to six months. But a September 2016 Oklahoma Supreme Court decision put a wrench in this practice — at least for the time being.
In a 7-2 ruling, the Oklahoma Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision setting aside a license revocation based on problems with the Itoxilyzer 8000 breathalyzer.
The defendant’s criminal defense attorney who’d challenged his client’s license revocation indicated that the supreme court’s holding is extensive. It will impact thousands of cases throughout Oklahoma, as the Intoxilyzer 8000 is the only breathalyzer instrument used by police in the state.
E.S. was arrested in December 2013 in Edmond, Oklahoma. He was breathalyzed with the Intoxilyzer 8000 and scored significantly over the legal limit. In 2014, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI and was given three years probation.
E.S. challenged his license revocation, and an Oklahoma County judge ruled for him, finding that the Oklahoma Board of Tests for Alcohol and Drug Influence had not followed standard procedures regarding the Intoxilyzer 8000. Specifically, the Board of Tests improperly approved the device’s gas cylinder, which determines whether the test is accurate. The appeals court upheld the lower court’s decision, and the Supreme Court affirmed without commentary.
According to one DUI attorney, the decision impacts cases going back as far as eight years. All the people who challenged their revocation to the Department of Public Safety will get relief.
Defense Attorney Bruce Edge said that he recently received a stack of notices in the mail indicating that his clients will not have their licenses suspended for DUI. The mailing represented several years worth of cases. In just one day, his office received 250 notices.
Before the state supreme court, the Department of Public Safety argued that the decision would allow drunk drivers not only to keep their driving privileges, but also to have their pending criminal cases dismissed. To give an idea of the number of cases the decision could affect, they cited the statistic of 20,000 DUI convictions that the Oklahoma Highway Safety Officer had reported in 2014.
One Oklahoma attorney predicted that the Department of Public Safety will mandate that every driver affected by the recent decision must undergo a renewed hearing. He indicated that the agency has taken this course of action when courts have ruled against it on other occasions.
The Board of Tests is expected to meet soon to address the issue, indicating they plan to have some emergency rules enacted.
If you have been charged with a DUI offense in Illinois, it is crucial to speak to an experienced Illinois DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Harvatin Law Offices, PC provides knowledgeable representation to people in Springfield and throughout Illinois. We have considerable experience defending individuals charged with DUI offenses and representing drivers with revoked licenses before the Illinois Secretary of State. To learn more, and to set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us toll-free at 1-800-829-8513.
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California Smartphone Breathalyzer Company Settles Lawsuit with FCC, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, February 2, 2017.