Thousands of drunk drivers could get back millions of dollars today because of possible DPS error
OKLAHOMA CITY – You see the flashing lights, troopers ticketing drunk drivers, handcuffing them.
It’s usually a relieving sign to mother like Liz Wittenback.
“As a mother of small children on the roads, it scares me to think there could be people who make bad choices when they’re driving around,” said Wittenbah.
However, since the Civil Court of Appeals found the Department of Public Safety’s arrest affidavits were written incorrectly, the agency could lose millions.
“It makes me angry because the DPS thinks they’re above the law. They could have fixed this five years ago,” said Defense Attorney John Hunsucker.
Hunsucker says under Oklahoma law, an arrest affidavit must state the officer had “reasonable grounds to believe the person drove or could have driven a car under the influence of alcohol.”
“It didn’t say that,” said Hunsucker. “All they said was ‘I arrest them in accordance with the law.'”
Because of the wrong wording, a judge ordered DPS to reinstate the licenses of six people and this past week the Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed.
Drivers out there have mixed feelings.
“They should have gotten their stuff together,” said Joe Tuttle.
“I think they should still have their licenses revoked,” said Cheryl Jackson.
DPS didn’t answer calls for comment, but Hunsucker is taking the case to a larger level.
He is working to file a class action law suit. If DPS loses, they could have to pay hundreds of dollars back to thousands of DUI offenders.
“No one condones drinking and driving. I’ve got three small kids,” said Hunsucker. “I don’t want someone out there that’s completely drunk driving the roads…”
However, Hunsucker says not everyone is guilty.
As for drivers like Wittenbach, they want the affidavits right.
“Just because the paperwork, they’re not going to be held accountable for that offense,”
An Oklahoma County judge will decide if Hunsucker can start working on this class action lawsuit.