What is the Oklahoma Driving Under Suspension Statute?
If your license has been suspended you lose the freedom to live your life. Not only do you miss the opportunity to go out to dinner or drive to the movies, but you are now faced with the difficult task of finding a way to get to work every day or how to get your kids home from school. With Oklahoma’s public transportation system seriously lacking, a suspended license can be a death sentence for life as you know it.
The Oklahoma statute for driving under suspension increases the severity of the punishment each time you are charged with the offense. This can lead to incredibly high traffic tickets, in addition to lengthier suspensions from the Department of Public Safety (DPS – Now called Service Oklahoma).
How does my license get suspended?
There are a few different ways the DPS can suspend your license:getting too many points through the DPS system, refusing a breathalyzer after a DUI stop, or being convicted on certain criminal cases.
DPS Point System
DPS assigns points to your license for various traffic infractions. Each citation has a different point value, and if you reach 10 points within 5 years, DPS will suspend your license for a varying length of time (depending on the circumstances).
The points are assigned by DPS and can change at any time. The points don’t last forever on your license. If you go a full year without receiving any traffic citations, DPS will remove 2 points from your record. If you go 3 years without any citations, DPS will clear all points from your record.
Refusing the State’s Test
If you refuse to take the State’s test during a DUI stop, DPS will most likely suspend your license. The State’s test is either a breathalyzer or blood test that an officer will ask you to take if they believe you are intoxicated. While you are well within your rights to refuse the State’s test, and in some instances it may be best for you to do so, it will come with certain consequences. You do not need to be convicted of the DUI for DPS to suspend your license. The mere refusal to take the breathalyzer/blood test is sufficient.
If you are convicted of certain criminal charges, DPS may suspend or revoke your license. While a suspension is the removal of your license for a short period of time with the ability to get it back, a revocation is far more complicated. It removes your driving rights the same way a suspension does, but does not come with a set time frame for receiving your license back. It does not permanently remove your ability to obtain a license, but you can expect to spend a significant portion of time without a license. The following crimes will most likely lead to a license suspension or revocation:
- Committing manslaughter or negligent homicide resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Having actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Committing any felony with a motor vehicle
- Failing to stop and render aid as required by law in the event of a motor vehicle accident resulting in the death or personal injury of another
- Committing perjury or making a false affidavit or statement under oath to the Department of Public Safety under the Uniform Vehicle Code or under any other law relating to the ownership or operation of motor vehicles
- Committing most drug-related offenses
- Abandoning property that you have been hired to transport across state lines, without notifying the property owner
- Failing to obey a traffic control device or a stop sign when such failure results in great bodily injury to any other person
- Failing to stop or remain stopped for school bus loading or unloading children
- Creating, purchasing, issuing, selling, or displaying an insurance verification form which has altered or false information
- Failing to comply with the Compulsory Insurance Law
- Eluding or attempting to elude a peace officer
Being charged with one of the above crimes is not sufficient for DPS to suspend or revoke your license; you must be convicted for the suspension or revocation to take effect. Upon a plea of guilty or conviction by a judge or jury, the court clerk will notify DPS, and DPS will either suspend or revoke your license based on those court records.
Driving Under Suspension is a Predicate Offense
Oklahoma has certain offenses, including driving under suspension, which are predicate offenses. This means the severity of the punishment increases if you have multiple convictions. The escalating punishments for multiple driving under suspension violations are:
- First offense = $100-$500;
- Second offense = $200-$750;
- Third offense or more = $300-$1,000 and/or a year in jail.
These punishments will look a little different if your license was suspended for a DUI versus getting 10 points in 5 years on the DPS system. Technically, a driving under suspension ticket can carry up to a year in jail if the suspension is based on alcohol-related offenses, such as a DUI. Similarly, these fines increase each time you are convicted of a DUI:
- First offense = $500-$1,000
- Second offense = $1,000-$2,000
- Third offense = $2,000 and $5,000
Driving under suspension tickets can be used to enhance your punishment for 10 years. This means if you receive three driving under suspension tickets within 3 years, you can face up to a year in jail.
Additionally, you can receive a ticket every time you are pulled over while your license is suspended. There is a common misconception that you can only receive one driving under suspension ticket at a time, allowing you to drive without a license until that ticket is resolved. This is incorrect; you can be issued a citation every time an officer pulls you over without an active license.
Does a ticket affect my suspension?
Yes. If you receive a ticket for driving under suspension, your license suspension will be extended by an additional 3 months. It is also important to note that this ticket can and will be factored into a license revocation. This means that if you receive enough tickets for driving under suspension, or other related traffic offenses, your license could be revoked.
The Bottom Line
Being unable to drive can deeply affect your day-to-day life and livelihood. Once your license is suspended, many people end up on a downward spiral of driving with a suspended license and getting much longer suspensions or even having their license revoked. If you receive a ticket for driving with a suspended license, it is important you hire an attorney with experience navigating the court system and DPS to ensure you get your license back as quickly as possible.