MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

October 12, 2013

Oklahoma court ruling could affect DUI revocations

TULSA (AP) — An Oklahoma appeals court has ruled in six cases that documents used by the Department of Public Safety to revoke driver’s licenses following DUI breath tests did not comply with state law, raising questions about thousands of past cases.

The Tulsa World reports that the Court of Civil Appeals rulings state that the Department of Public Safety was told of the problem in a 1990 case. In that case, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the agency’s license-revocation documentation was “fatally flawed.”

A former DPS attorney also warned the board that oversees the blood-alcohol tests about the problem several years ago, said attorney John Hunsucker, who filed several of the appeals.

“It’s definitely a can of worms that could have been fixed many years ago,” Hunsucker said.

State law requires blood-alcohol test reports to include “a sworn report from a law enforcement officer that the officer had reasonable grounds to believe the arrested person” drove or could have driven a car under the influence of alcohol.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. George Brown, a spokesman for DPS, said the document in question — the affidavit signed by the arresting officer — has been in use for eight years.

The Court of Civil Appeals rulings ordered lower courts to dismiss license revocations against two people from Tulsa County and one person from Cleveland County.

The appeals court also affirmed rulings by an Oklahoma County judge dismissing license revocations in three other cases. In those cases, the lower court judge found that the documents DPS relied upon were deficient.

The appeals court rulings state that driver’s licenses were improperly revoked in cases where the affidavits that accompanied the blood-alcohol test reports did not comply with the wording in state law.

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