Cover Image for Understanding the Drug Court System in Oklahoma (2024)

Understanding the Drug Court System in Oklahoma (2024)

Kaylind Landes
10 minute read

When many people think about driving under the influence (DUI), they automatically think of alcohol. But you don’t have to be drunk to get a DUI – you could also be under the influence of drugs. It doesn’t even have to be illegal drugs: Prescription drugs and other common substances can also lead to a DUI.

If you were arrested for a DUI-Drugs, you might be wondering about Oklahoma’s drug court system: Does it apply to you? How does it work? And how can you get out early? First, contact an experienced attorney to help you. Then read on.

What Is Drug Court in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma’s drug courts are programs that give adult, non-violent, felony drug offenders the option of choosing drug treatment instead of being sentenced to jail time. The goal is to address the root causes of substance abuse and help people get sober, which also prevents drug-related crime.

According to, “Adult drug court programs provide eligible, non-violent, felony offenders the opportunity to participate in a highly structured, court supervised treatment program in lieu of incarceration.” Drug court participants are given a strict treatment plan, which will always include frequent testing to ensure they’re not using drugs or alcohol, plus other requirements, like counseling.

Drug courts in Oklahoma fall under the umbrella of “treatment courts,” which also include DUI, mental health, and veterans courts. Each county in Oklahoma is responsible for setting up and running its own program, so there are multiple drug courts in the state. However, they all have the same eligibility requirements and generally operate in the same way.

Who Is Eligible for Drug Court?

Enrolling in drug court is completely voluntary. To be eligible for drug court in Oklahoma:

  • You must have committed a felony crime.
  • The crime must be drug-related and non-violent, which generally means you didn’t physically harm another person (although some crimes, like extortion, are considered violent crimes even if no one is physically hurt).
  • The crime must not qualify as trafficking under the Trafficking In Illegal Drugs Act. If you’re in possession of the following amounts of drugs, the charge is elevated to trafficking:
    • Marijuana: 25 pounds
    • Cocaine or crack: 28 grams
    • Heroin: 10 grams
    • Fentanyl: 1 gram
    • Methamphetamine: 20 grams
    • LSD: 1 gram
    • PCP: 20 grams
  • You must have no previous felony convictions in the last ten years, whether in Oklahoma or any other state.
  • You must admit to having a substance abuse addiction, and you must undergo an assessment and be referred to drug court.

What if you were arrested for DUI-Drugs? In Oklahoma, this is a type of DUI, so it will follow the same rules as a standard alcohol-related offense. A second arrest within ten years is a felony DUI, so you will be eligible for drug court. A first-time DUI or DUI-Drugs is a misdemeanor under Oklahoma law, so you technically wouldn’t be eligible for drug court in that case. You’ll likely be referred to standard DUI court.

Oklahoma Drug Court vs. Misdemeanor Diversion Programs

Over the past few years, Oklahoma has reclassified simple drug possession and low-level property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. While the goal was to keep people out of prison, there was an unintended effect: Fewer people enrolled in Oklahoma’s drug courts, which are only available for felony crimes.

In response, many counties created misdemeanor diversion programs as an alternative to drug court. Like drug court, they’re completely voluntary. Unlike drug court, these programs are typically only six months long and don’t involve drug and alcohol testing. Participants also don’t have to come to court as often. The main goal is to connect participants with services like counseling, housing, and food. Thirty-five counties currently have misdemeanor diversion programs, including Tulsa County and Oklahoma County.

How Does Oklahoma Drug Court Work?

If you’re eligible for drug court in Oklahoma, the next step is to determine if it’s the right option for you. Here’s how it typically works.

1. Application and Approval

If you meet the requirements, you can request drug court adjudication for your case, which means you ask to be sent to drug court instead of having a standard trial. The judge and prosecutor in your case, as well as the drug court staff, must all approve your admission to drug court.

Once you’re approved, you’ll sign a plea agreement that will outline what happens when you successfully complete drug court (usually, your case is dismissed) and if you don’t complete the program (usually, you go to prison). You’ll then plead guilty to the charges and officially begin your treatment plan.

2. Assessment and Treatment

Oklahoma drug court treatment programs are very strict, with structured levels from one through four, plus “aftercare.” They usually last between six months and two years, depending on the severity of the crime and your addiction. Aftercare is an additional six to 18 months of supervision and testing.

First, you’ll participate in a drug and alcohol assessment with a qualified counselor. They’ll want to learn about your history of substance use, relapse, and related crimes. Then they’ll create your treatment plan, which the court will approve. Exact treatment plans vary, but they always involve:

  • Random drug and alcohol testing
  • Regular attendance at court hearings
  • Participation in counseling sessions and support groups
  • Active engagement with the program

3. Rule Violations

The purpose of Oklahoma drug court is to provide incentives for meeting your goals and completing the program and penalties for failing to do so. At the same time, rule violations and relapses are typically considered part of the process. The penalties for not meeting your goals will increase, however, and you can be kicked out. Here’s how the penalties might progress:

  • Observe a court session
  • Write an essay on your rule violation
  • Increased community service
  • Increased monitoring and supervision
  • Additional counseling requirements
  • Requirement to move into sober living
  • A short jail sentence (about six months)
  • Removal from the drug court program

If you’re kicked out of your drug court program, your case will go back to traditional court proceedings – and you’ll likely go to prison for a longer period of time.

4. Graduation

Oklahoma’s drug courts have a high graduation rate: Oklahoma County’s drug court recently received an award for its 83% graduation rate. For most graduates, one of two things happens with their case:

  • If the offense was a first-time felony, the case is dismissed.
  • If you had a previous felony conviction, your plea agreement from step 1 will outline what happens. It may stay on your record as a conviction, but you’ll avoid jail time.

The judge can also waive any remaining fines and court costs, meaning you wouldn’t have to pay them. And, importantly for DUI-Drugs cases, they can also waive the fees and costs you’d normally have to pay to get your driver's license back.

How to Get Out of Drug Court Early

Drug court in Oklahoma is highly structured, so you can’t get out of it early. When you’re accepted into drug court, you’ll sign a plea agreement that outlines exactly what you need to do to complete the program and when you need to do it. For example, you might need to attend counseling twice a week for the first six months, then once a week for another six months.

Your treatment program isn’t usually negotiable – from the start, it’s a legally binding agreement that you must follow. However, there is one thing you can do: Hire an experienced attorney who knows how to negotiate a fair agreement before you sign it. They’ll know how to get out of drug court as soon as possible while still getting the support you need.

Benefits of Oklahoma Drug Court

A criminal record can limit your ability to find a job and housing – yet without employment, housing, and other support, offenders are often forced back into the life of crime they’re trying to avoid. Oklahoma’s drug courts have been very successful at helping low-level offenders avoid prison time and criminal records, and the benefits are proven:

  • Lower unemployment: One graduating class reduced unemployment by 94% between entry and graduation.
  • Higher income: Graduates increased their monthly income by 176%, from $730 to more than $2,000 per month.
  • Less likely to return to prison: Only 8% of graduates were back in prison within three years, compared with 23% of inmates released from standard prison.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve been arrested for a misdemeanor or felony DUI-Drugs, Oklahoma drug court or a misdemeanor diversion program could be an option for you. But drug court isn’t easy. Your treatment plan will be strict, and the only way to get out of drug court early is to be kicked out – and then you’ll be headed to prison. It’s important to talk to a qualified attorney who can help you figure out what’s best for your case. Contact the Tulsa DUI Guy for a free case evaluation today.