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Ignition Interlock Devices No Longer Required In Oklahoma

For years, many Oklahoma drivers convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) were required to install ignition interlock devices into their vehicles in order to get their driver's licenses back. These ignition interlocks require the driver to blow into a portable breathalyzer before the car can be started; they also randomly prompt the driver to breathe into the device at certain points during the trip. If the ignition interlock detects any alcohol in the sample, the vehicle's engine shuts off. 

But after a legal victory (combined with a change in legislation), these devices will no longer be required. Learn more about these recent changes to Oklahoma's DUI laws. 

Oklahoma's Ignition Interlock Legislation

Someone who is convicted of a DUI in Oklahoma will lose their license for a specified period of time, usually at least 3 to 6 months. Individuals in this situation can apply for a "hardship license" that allows them to drive to work or to other essential places. But until recently, to have one's non-hardship license returned, drivers were required to install an ignition interlock device for a specified period of time. 

Many critics of this law argued that it unfairly imposed financial penalties on those who could least afford them. In most cases, users needed to pay an installation fee, as well as monthly monitoring and maintenance costs. If the device was damaged, the user might also be on the hook for replacement costs. And for many DUI offenders, even first-time offenders, this ignition interlock requirement could be imposed for up to 18 months.

In response to this criticism, the Oklahoma Legislature recently eliminated this requirement. Going forward, drivers convicted of DUI will no longer be subject to the ignition interlock requirement.

A DUI Defense Firm Sues 

Even after this law changed, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS) continued to enforce it for those who came to reinstate their driver's licenses. Because these individuals had been convicted of DUI before the law change, DPS argued that the repeal of the ignition interlock didn't absolve them of its requirement.

In response, an Oklahoma DUI defense firm sued the DPS, arguing that the repeal of the ignition interlock requirement applied to all who sought to have their driver's licenses reinstated, regardless of when the conviction occurred. The law firm won this lawsuit, and going forward, Oklahoma drivers will no longer be required to install an ignition interlock.

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