Even if you're not a resident of the Sooner State, you may be interested in (or impacted by) a recent change to Oklahoma's DUI laws. This change entirely jettisons the concept of "implied consent" hearings, making the DUI prosecution process far more streamlined. Learn more about how this change is likely to affect the way DUI cases proceed through Oklahoma courts.
What Does This Law Change?
As of November 1, 2019, Oklahoma courts will no longer hold implied consent hearings for individuals arrested and charged with DUI.
The implied consent law, which exists in many states, provides that a person who operates a motor vehicle on a public highway within the state of Oklahoma gives "implied consent" to have their blood, breath, or urine tested upon a police officer's reasonable suspicion that the person is driving while under the influence of alcohol or an illicit substance. Refusing a blood, breath, or urine test is considered a de facto admission to DUI and can result in an automatic driver's license suspension. Those who want to challenge this automatic suspension must request an implied consent hearing in which they will argue that the police officer had no probable cause to request a blood, breath, or urine test.
Under the new law, the elimination of implied consent hearings will make it tougher to challenge a breathalyzer refusal and provide drivers, particularly first-time DUI offenders, with more incentive to enter into a deferral agreement with the prosecutor's office. Drivers who are arrested for DUI can instead request to join the Impaired Driver Accountability Program (IDAP), which allows drivers to keep their licenses if they agree to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a certain period of time and pay a fee.
What Impact Will This Change Have?
If this change sounds familiar to you, you're not alone—this law was previously passed in 2017, but after a legal challenge, it was overturned by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. With new amendments to this law that comport with the Supreme Court's directives, the 2019 implied consent law is ready to go.
But while the implied consent law is likely to create sweeping changes in the way DUI cases proceed through Oklahoma courts, it also marks a societal shift toward diversion or deferral programs for first-time DUI offenders. Lawmakers cite the positive impact that an ignition interlock device can have on drivers, who must provide an alcohol-free breath sample in order to start their vehicle (as well as random breath samples while driving), making it far more difficult to get behind the wheel while under the influence.
For more information on the DUI laws near you, contact a DUI attorney.
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