Being arrested for DUI, going to jail, and the uncertainty of the DUI court process can be a scary prospect for anyone. However, do not lose hope. You or your loved one facing an Oklahoma DUI offense can get past this process and you have power to impact your future, even after being arrested for DUI! Although the fear of being sentenced to jail and/or receiving a conviction for your DUI offense are legitimate concerns, in most cases both worse case scenarios can be avoided. I repeat, in most cases when you work with an experienced Oklahoma DUI defense attorney, you can avoid both jail time and a conviction for your DUI case. 

While hiring an experienced Oklahoma DUI attorney is important and increases the likelihood of a positive outcome in your DUI case that is not the only work to be done. In order to maximize your chances for a positive outcome in your Oklahoma DUI case, you need to understand the DUI court process and the impact you can have on obtaining a positive outcome. 

This article is focused on explaining the Oklahoma DUI court process and preparing you for the road ahead between your DUI arrest and resolution of your DUI case. A clear understanding of the DUI court process can help you follow through with the progress of your case, where you are, and how it’s likely to end. This article goes over every step in the process of your DUI case and provides tips on what to do to maximize your chances of avoiding jail time for your DUI, as well as how to avoid a conviction for your DUI.

DUI: One DUI, but Two Cases

Not all DUI cases are the same; however, in Oklahoma, each DUI incident will result in both a civil and criminal process. The reason for this unique situation is that a DUI offense impacts your driving privileges, a civil administrative process, in addition to the criminal case you will face. When you work with an experienced Oklahoma DUI defense attorney, you must ensure that they both have experience in obtaining great results for clients in the same situation as you are for the criminal case, but also success representing clients in the DUI driver’s license revocation process.

The civil aspect of your Oklahoma DUI case is administered by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS), and this is an action taken against your driver’s license or Oklahoma driving privileges. The second part, the criminal case – regarding the offense of driving or operating a vehicle while drunk- is decided in Oklahoma criminal district courts or municipal courts that have authority to handle DUI cases, i.e. the Oklahoma City Municipal Court. 

The civil aspect of your Oklahoma DUI can result in one of three outcomes, which are as follows:

  1. your participation in a diversion program through DPS called IDAP (link to more information)
  2. Filing a District Court Appeal (DCA) contesting the validity of your DUI stop or arrest (link to more information)
  3. Failure to act, which will result in suspension of your driving privileges for at least 180 days (link to more information)

Civil Action: DUI and Driving Privileges

After a DUI arrest in Oklahoma, you have a 30-day period to contact DPS, complete the IDAP application (here), including the prerequisits for admission into the program, ie instillation of an interlock device on your vehicle. Alternatively, you may initiate a District Court Appeal to contest the basis of the traffic stop or DUI arrest. At the District Court Appeal, an attorney from DPS and the arresting officer will present evidence to attempt to convince the judge that your DUI stop and arrest were lawful, which would result in your driving privileges being suspended. Alternatively, your Oklahoma DUI defense attorney will work with you to convince the Court that the officer lacked sufficient evidence for the traffic stop and/or lacked probable cause to support an arrest for DUI. 

The District Court Appeal is your only opportunity to contest the basis of your driver’s license suspension, as DPS administrative hearings have been terminated in Oklahoma at this time. The DCA allows you to defend yourself against possible driver’s license suspension or revocation. Failure to take one of the two options listed above will result in DPS revoking your Oklahoma driving privileges for a minimum of 180 days. 

These options are somewhat confusing and certainly complex. We encourage you to contact an experienced Oklahoma DUI defense attorney that handles DPS driver’s license revocation cases to ensure you do everything possible to protect your driving privileges. Please the pages linked above for more information.

DUI: the Criminal Case

The civil and criminal aspects of an Oklahoma DUI arrest do not go hand-in-hand. In fact, the civil aspect of your DUI case has no impact on the criminal. However, the requirements for your civil matter following a DUI can satisfy the requirements for your criminal DUI case as well, if you are able to time the resolution of both. Simply put, you will have terms of probation in your DUI case, if you elect to resolve your DUI criminal case with probation. 

The terms of your criminal DUI case probation will have mirrored-terms in your civil matter with DPS. For example, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you operate as part of your driver’s license reinstatement through DPS. The ignition interlock device will also be a condition of your probation in the DUI criminal case if you and your DUI defense attorney are able to resolve your case without jail time. Additionally, you will be required to complete a Drug and Alcohol Assessment for both your DUI criminal case probation, as well as your DUI civil case with DPS. 

This term of DUI probation is typically called an ADSAC, which can be completed at any time. In fact, our DUI defense team has helped hundreds of clients identify the most convenient locations to complete all necessary terms of probation and use our connections with these providers to assist our DUI clients in scheduling appointments at convenient times and locations. 

Timing in critical in these matters as you will not get credit for the time an interlock device is installed in your case for the criminal case from the civil DUI case and vice versa, unless the start time on both are the same. The goal is to have conditions required for both the civil DUI and criminal DUI case overlap to avoid double punishment or duplicate terms of probation. 

For example, if you have an interlock device installed on your vehicle for the civil DUI process in June and are required to maintain the device for six months, you will be required to keep the device installed on your vehicle until the end of the year or January.  However, if your DUI criminal case probation does not begin until October of the same year, you would be required to keep the interlock device on your vehicle for an additional three months, to complete a continuous six-month term of the interlock device for your DUI criminal case. Take the following dates your DUI probation commences below as an example:

  • Civil DUI case: IDAP program and interlock instillation for six-months beginning in January 🡪 complete in July
  • Criminal DUI case: DUI probation and interlock instillation for six-months begin in March 🡪 complete in September
  • Result: interlock must be installed from January to September or nine months!
  • Goal: begin DPS IDAP program and DUI probation as close in time as possible to only have interlock device installed for six-months

Beginning of your DUI Criminal Case

Like every other criminal case in Oklahoma, the DUI charge is processed through the judicial system. After your DUI arrest, the charge is presented by the arresting officer to a prosecutor to consider filing DUI charged. If your DUI arrest results in a criminal case, then you will begin the DUI judicial process with an arraignment. At the arraignment on your DUI case, all charges against the defendant will be read, and the defendant gets a chance to enter a plea. The defendant can enter a “guilty” or “not guilty” plea, which can further affect the case’s outcome. We can appear on behalf of our DUI clients in most cases, where we enter a plea of not guilty on their behalf, obtain the next court date, and begin the process of defending our client’s DUI case.

DUI Criminal Case: Initial Investigation 

During the early phases of your Oklahoma DUI case an experienced Oklahoma DUI defense attorney will task their investigator to use the process for the specific law enforcement agency involved to obtain all the evidence in your case, including dash cam footage and body cam footage or audio recordings from the officer. Additionally, your Oklahoma DUI defense attorney should obtain all discovery from the prosecutor, including the incident reports and potentially video evidence. 

While your Oklahoma DUI defense lawyer is seeking the discovery in your case, they should identify the specific prosecutor handling your case and reach out to begin communication on your behalf. We are fortunate to have a good working relationship with prosecutors across the state that are usually willing to provide us discovery and speak to us about our client’s cases as soon as we enter our appearance on the client’s behalf. 

Your Fierce Advocates® at Cannon & Associates seek to complete as much of the investigation as possible before your first court date to give you a better understanding of your case and likelihood of success in fighting the case or seeking a dismissal based on a legal issue. Once we have obtained the evidence in your case, we will share it with you through our client portal, where you can access everything in your file and we will schedule a time to meet and discuss the evidence in your case.

DUI Criminal Case: Initial Court Appearances

In many of the county courts where we defend our clients’ DUI cases, we can appear on our client’s behalf at most of the court appearances. Our clients can avoid interruptions to work and/or school, while we appear on their behalf and fight for their interests. At the initial substantive DUI court date, whether our clients appear with our DUI defense attorneys or not, we follow the same steps to start each of our client’s DUI cases in the right direction:

  1. Fight Your Case: Our DUI defense lawyers respectfully confront the prosecutor about any identified issues with the DUI traffic stop, DUI arrest, DUI field sobriety tests, DUI breathalyzer, or other legal issues.
  2. Tell Your Story: Our Oklahoma DUI defense lawyers have already met with our client and learned about his/her life and we are able to tell a compelling story to the prosecutor about our client and who they are outside of being arrested for an allegation of driving under the influence of alcohol. 
  3. Identify Your Options: Our Oklahoma DUI defense attorneys will speak with the prosecutor about their recommendation for resolution of your case and seek the best possible outcome and memorialize the prosecutor’s recommendation on your DUI case, in case you want to explore that option. 
  4. Communicate with You: after meeting with the prosecutor, we will speak with you and your family about the options available in your specific DUI case and continue to case to another court date to collect more information, continue to try to identify a way to have your DUI case dismissed or reduced and schedule a time to speak with you in more detail about your case. 

DUI Criminal Case: Considering Your Options in your DUI case

After meeting with the prosecutor on your DUI case and identifying the options available to you, we like to schedule a meeting by telephone or in our office to discuss your options, answer your questions, and provide you our experience and analysis on the pros and cons of each option available to you in your DUI case. 

No two DUI cases are the same; however, the facts and circumstances that impact the outcome of DUI cases in Oklahoma do have common elements. We work with every client to assist them and their family in considering the options with the help of our forecasting potential outcomes in your DUI case based on similar circumstances in DUI cases of clients in the past. Knowledge is power and we are not satisfied until every client understands each of their options and can make an informed decision based on understanding the risks and rewards of each option in their case.

DUI Criminal Case: Possible case outcomes

Most of our Oklahoma DUI defense clients want their DUI cases handled and finalized as quickly as possible so they can move on with their lives. However, some cases may not be as straightforward as others. Additionally, some of our clients are innocent and/or had their rights violate during the DUI stop or DUI arrest and we fight to right the wrong of having their rights violated. In such events, there are some other possible outcomes to consider, including:

  • Filing motions to seek suppression of evidence in your DUI case
  • Filing motions to seek to have your DUI case dismissed
  • Take your DUI case to a jury trial and prove our client’s innocence to the jury

DUI Criminal Case: Motion Hearings

Sometimes, DUI cases may be resolved by filing a single motion or multiple motions with the court. Motions may be filed for several reasons, including countering the technicality or merits of the DUI case.

An experienced DUI defense lawyer may file a Motion to Dismiss for lack of evidence or lack of evidence for the DUI stop. Your DUI defense lawyer may also file a Motion to Suppress and Dismiss for Unlawful Traffic Stop or unlawful arrest. Your DUI case may be dismissed if your DUI lawyer wins any of these motions.

DUI Criminal Case: Preliminary Hearing

In Oklahoma Felony DUI cases are taken very seriously; however, you are afforded more rights than a simple misdemeanor DUI. One important right in a felony DUI case is the preliminary hearing, which is used to determine whether the state can prove probable cause that your DUI stop and arrest were valid. It is important to note that the District Attorney’s office will most likely withdraw any plea bargains in place should you choose a preliminary hearing. However, an experienced Oklahoma DUI lawyer may be able to record enough evidence in the preliminary hearing to convince the judge to dismiss your DUI case. 

DUI Criminal Case: Plea Bargaining 

DUI case plea bargains are another alternative to trial. In a DUI case, your DUI defense attorney can use all the information available about your life and the steps you are taking to overcome this experience to avoid the worst possible outcomes in your DUI case. The most common types of plea bargains are suspended sentences or deferred sentences – both options require probation but avoid jail time.

A deferred sentence on your DUI case is the next best thing to having your case dismissed. A deferred DUI sentence means the judge sets off sentencing for a period, to give them the opportunity to complete the terms of probation. After you complete your deferred DUI sentence, your DUI defense attorney can assist you in getting your DUI case dismissed and help you in the process of having your DUI expunged and removed from your record. Fortunately, this outcome has no negative consequence on your DUI civil case through DPS. In fact, this outcome will assist you in avoiding a license revocation, meaning the decision of the DPS stands firm.

A suspended sentence on your DUI case brings with it a conviction with a suspended jail term as a condition. The suspended jail time may be partial or full, depending on the penalty associated with the DUI case. For a partially suspended jail time, the defendant may be asked to complete the remaining part of the jail time under probation but with revoked driving privileges. Drivers who have earlier won their hearing at the DPS will suffer revoked driving privileges by choosing this path. 

The overlap from the DUI criminal case upon your driving privileges is more impactful when you receive a suspended sentence on your DUI case. We encourage you to work with an experienced DUI defense attorney that handles DPS and criminal court actions to ensure you know the consequences of any outcome in your case and that your rights are protected. 

DUI Criminal Case: Diversion Program

Many of our DUI clients qualify for diversion programs. DUI diversion programs are often more intense than standard probation; however, more resources are provided to our DUI clients in diversion programs. DUI defendants in diversion programs will be asked to complete an alcohol or drug treatment program among other requirements. The best aspect of DUI diversion programs is that most result in your Oklahoma DUI case being dismissed upon successful completion of the program. 

Our DUI clients that are Veterans often qualify for Veterans Diversion and have their cases dismissed at the beginning of the program. A diversion program may be a great option to consider if you don’t have access to a deferred sentence and wish to avoid jail time. You should work with your chosen DUI defense attorney to apply for or at least consider each of the available DUI diversion programs in court. 

DUI Criminal Case: Blind Plea

A blind plea in your DUI case takes place when you and your DUI defense attorney are unable to reach an agreement with the prosecutor; however, you do not want to go to jury trial. In a DUI blind plea, the decision on the outcome of your DUI case, including going to jail or not, is left to the judge. 

This decision can result in a great outcome, far better than the offer of the prosecutor, or it may be worse. The decision to enter a blind plea should only be done after considering all options and receiving the counsel of your chosen, hopefully very experienced, Oklahoma DUI defense attorney.  

Your DUI defense lawyer’s experience and understanding of the judge deciding your case are vital in your analysis of considering this option. Most judges are inclined to mercy or punishment; however, nothing is certain in a blind plea. Make sure your DUI defense attorney can advise you on the predisposition, if any, for the judge deciding your case. We have had many great outcomes from blind pleading a client’s DUI case; however, that is not always the case. 

DUI Criminal Case: Jury Trial

A jury trial, similar to a blind plea, is an unknown terrain, where the outcomes can only be forecasted, never guaranteed. We have tried many clients’ cases and heard the jury announce “Not Guilty” at the conclusion of the evidence; however, be cautious before taking this course. The consequence of the jury believing your guilt of driving under the influence of alcohol beyond a reasonable doubt will likely result in your being sentenced to jail time and a conviction. Before taking any criminal case to trial, be sure to obtain an experienced defense attorney to advise you on your case and help build your defense, which may need the assistance of expert witnesses. 

Contact – Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma Fierce Advocates® for DUI Defendants

The Fierce Advocates® at Cannon & Associates, have the experience you need to represent you and your loved ones in any Oklahoma DUI offense. We have successfully handled hundreds of cases in the past for clients facing every type of DUI offense, from first-offense DUI or APC to vehicular manslaughter DUI or Felony DUI. 

No two client’s DUI case are the same; however, we bring our experience in former clients’ cases to bear in every new matter we have the honor of representing a client. Contact Cannon & Associates by completing the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL 405-883-4427 for a free, confidential case strategy meeting and to have your questions answered about the DUI criminal process and DUI civil process in Oklahoma.