Flawed DUI affidavit may cost Oklahoma millions

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Originally Posted: Saturday, December 14, 2013 2:44 pm | Updated: 10:25 pm, Sat Dec 14, 2013. By ZIVA BRANSTETTER Tulsa World Enterprise Editor

A recent state Supreme Court decision could mean the Department of Public Safety must refund millions in fees to nearly 40,000 drivers whose licenses the agency revoked using a faulty affidavit.

In a ruling last week, the Supreme Court denied an appeal by DPS of a lower court’s ruling that documents used in DUI breath tests did not comply with state law. The decision means an October Court of Civil Appeals decision that the affidavit was “fatally flawed” stands as the final ruling in the case.

Attorneys who brought the case have now requested class action status in lawsuits filed in Tulsa and Oklahoma counties. The suits seek refunds for all drivers whose licenses were revoked between 2008 and October 2013, when the affidavit language was corrected. While the case decided by the appeals court involves only six people from three counties cited for driving under the influence of alcohol, DPS states in its appeal the decision could apply to “thousands” of drivers statewide.

The license revocation process is an administrative action separate from any criminal charges filed, which would not be impacted by the court rulings.

A Tulsa attorney representing drivers in the case, said the Supreme Court’s 7-2 rejection of DPS’ appeal was made in a relatively short time — three weeks — indicating the strength of the case.

Attorney John Hunsucker, based in Oklahoma City, said the suits seek refunds of all fees drivers paid to modify their revocations or reinstate their licenses. The suits also seek repayment of monthly fees drivers paid for ignition interlock devices allowing them to drive. DPS charges $175 to reinstate a driver’s license after an alcohol-related driving offense and about $300 to modify the length of the revocation