House Addresses Access to OK DL for Those in the Criminal Justice System
Mike Seals - March 11, 2021 11:35 am
OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond, was successful in passing a measure aimed at ensuring those involved in the criminal justice system are able to obtain a driver’s license so they can pursue work and education.
House Bill 1795 creates the Christopher Hopper Act, which gives the Oklahoma Dept. of Public Safety (DPS) flexibility to work with individuals to get a provisional license if they are keeping up with their fines and fees. Current statute allows DPS to suspend or revoke a defendant’s license after arrest for a wide variety of crimes that may not be related to automobile crimes. The process to revoke a license occurs in a separate process from the criminal proceedings following an arrest.
“House Bill 1795 protects public safety while also giving people who have left incarceration more opportunity to pursue employment and education, which is so important to rejoining society successfully,” Miller said. “I have been working on this legislation for several years and was very glad to see it pass the floor with wide support from my colleagues.”
Miller held an interim study on the issue in 2019 after a constituent asked ways to streamline the process for her stepson to receive his license back after it was suspended due to a non-vehicular criminal offense. He was without a license for 16 years. The bill is named after him.
The bill also updates when a license could be revoked for failure to pay fines and fees. Current statute revokes licenses after failure to pay a single fine, but HB1795 would give more flexibility to the courts and DPS before revocation in hopes of allowing individuals to keep their job that allows them to pay their fines and fees.
Miller modeled the legislation after last year’s House Bill 1298, which was stalled in the legislative process after session was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.