Administrative vs. Criminal
Many people are surprised to find that an Oklahoma driving under the influence (DUI) charge actually triggers two separate cases: administrative and criminal. They’re often more surprised that they only have 15 days after the date of the initial drunk-driving arrest to start dealing with their administrative action, which could lead to an automatic license suspension if ignored.
The Administrative Case
Just by virtue of being charged with drunk driving—whether you failed the breath or blood test or refused it—the State has the authority to take your driving privileges away. In fact, your license could be suspended for a minimum of six months to up to three years, unless you file a hearing request within the 15-day deadline. Depending on your situation, you may also be required to mount an ignition interlock device in your car for up to eight years as a condition of your license reinstatement. Please note that the administrative case is not dependent on the criminal proceedings, and you can still lose your license even before pleading or being found guilty of DUI by a judge or jury.
The Criminal Case
In addition to the administrative case, the State will also prepare a criminal case against you to establish your guilt. Your case could be assigned to a district or municipal court, depending on the arresting officer and other factors. If you were arrested by a county deputy or Oklahoma State Trooper, your case will be assigned to the district—or state—court. However, if you were arrested by a municipal police officer, he or she can decide which court should prosecute your case.
If you have a prior DUI on your record or there were extenuating factors that upgrade the drunk-driving offense to a felony, your case will be heard in the state court. However, a standard first offense can be assigned to a municipal court. Generally, this is the best option as the fines and probation period is less than with district court.