For many people, dealing with a DUI charge can be a harrowing experience, especially if it is their first time being arrested and dealing with the justice system. Here you will find what you can expect throughout the judicial process.
Civil/DPS Action vs. Criminal Action
The first thing you need to understand about a DUI charge in Oklahoma is that you are actually facing two separate actions: the first is a criminal charge for driving under the influence, which will be decided in a court by a judge or jury; the second is a civil action, administered by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS), against your driver’s license.
Once you have been arrested for DUI, you will have just 15 days to contact the DPS and request an administrative hearing. It is CRITICAL that this hearing is requested in time; otherwise, you will forfeit your chance to defend you driving privileges and your license will be automatically revoked for no less than 180 days.
The Criminal Charge
The criminal side of the DUI charge proceeds through the judicial system just like any other criminal charge. First, you will have an initial hearing, called an arraignment. At the arraignment, the judge will inform you of what you are being charged with and you will enter a plea. Depending on the circumstances, you may or may not need to appear at the arraignment.
Before the actual trial, your defense team will file any pretrial motions that are applicable in the case. A pretrial motion can challenge the admissibility of certain pieces of evidence, such as the results of a blood or breath BAC test or any field sobriety tests. In some cases, a successful pretrial motion can result in the prosecution offering an advantageous plea deal or in the charges being dismissed altogether.
If the case is not resolved after the pretrial motions are filed, then a jury trial may be scheduled. The jury trial process generally lasts between two to four days. A jury trial looks like what you are used to seeing on TV and in movies: the prosecution and the defense make opening statements, witnesses are called, evidence is presented, and the jury renders a verdict. The verdict must be unanimous; just one dissenting vote can result in a hung jury, which would cause a mistrial.
Other Possible Outcomes
The attorneys at the Hunsucker Legal Group are all qualified to put on a DUI jury trial or bench trial. We realize that jury/bench trial is not always the route a client wants to go to resolve their criminal matters for a number of reasons. There are other ways to resolve your DUI matter such as motion hearings, deferred or suspended sentences, deferment programs, and blind plea
An alternative to trial would be to try to resolve a criminal matter through the filing of motions. Motions are filed for a number reasons, but often to deal with issues that go to the merits of the case. For example, a Motion to Dismiss for No Probable Cause to Arrest, or a Motion to Suppress and Dismiss for an Unlawful Traffic Stop. Often a win on either one of these motions would lead the judge to dismiss the case.
For felony DUIs, a defendant is provided with the option of a preliminary hearing, which is used to determine whether the State can show that there was probable cause to arrest you in the first place. More often than not, the District Attorney will withdraw whatever plea bargain has been negotiated should you decide to exercise right to preliminary hearing in your case
Another alternative to trial to resolve a DUI is through plea bargaining. The most common plea bargains are a deferred sentence or a suspended sentence, both of which require probation.
A deferred sentence means that the judge will defer sentencing in your criminal matter for a certain period of time to allow you to go on probation and complete the negotiated requirements of your term. If you are successful, the judge will change your plea to not guilty and dismiss the DUI charge on the day of sentencing. This will not cause a license revocation from the criminal side of your case. It is important to note that deferred sentences accepted on November 1, 2011 to the present can be used to enhance a subsequent DUI to a felony.
A suspended sentence is a conviction in which jail time is suspended, either in part or in whole. You will still be required to go on probation and be successful. This type of sentence will revoke your driving privileges, leaving your DPS case moot if it has not yet occurred.
In certain instances, deferment programs are available for individuals who qualify. These programs are intense and treatment based. If a deferred sentence is unavailable and you are still looking to get a dismissal or avoid jail/prison time then a deferment program may be an alternative to trial to consider. The most common deferment program for DUIs is DUI/Drug Court.
Another alternative to trial would be a blind plea, which occurs when a defendant does not accept the State's plea bargain, and instead leaves it up to the judge to sentence him/her. This is where it is important for your attorney to know the judge in your case, as the judge has full discretion on sentencing. The judge could go with a deferred sentence, a suspended sentence, or with county jail or prison time.
If you have been charged with DUI in Oklahoma, call the Hunsucker Legal Group at 405-231-5600 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
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