Oklahoma City, OK- The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has introduced a controversial proposal that would allow them to conduct “no refusal” DUI operations throughout the state during weekends and holidays which will help them secure more convictions. A move that opponents say violates the privacy rights of Oklahoma citizens.
Suspected drunk drivers in Oklahoma have the right to refuse to blood or breathalyzer test when they are stopped. Even though refusing to take a sobriety test carries its own set of penalties, which can include suspension of a driver’s license, many drivers chose this option since it makes it more difficult for prosecutors to secure a DUI conviction.
This is a problem for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, which says 31 percent of their DUI arrestees refuse to submit to sobriety tests.
Capt. Ronnie Hampton, with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol told KFOR News Channel 4, “One of the enforcement things we can do, that people have seen drastically reduces the DUI rates, is no refusal operations.”
Under the “no refusal” proposal, law enforcement officers would be allowed to conduct these tests even when the driver refuses by obtaining a warrant electronically. An arresting officer would be allowed to obtain that warrant by emailing a judge with their request. The judge could then issue that warrant using an electronic signature if they believe the officer has probable cause to arrest a driver, according to KFOR.
The suspect is then taken to a medical facility to have the appropriate test.
While the police say this can crackdown on drunk drivers, opponents believe it is an invasion of privacy and violates state laws.
Speaking to KFOR, local attorney Charles Sifers said, “Where then do you go beyond the lines of protecting the public and threaten the protection of the individuals.”
Sifers says once a citizen’s privacy rights are taken away they rarely get them back and violates the Oklahoma law which states if they refuse a test “none shall be given except where there is a car wreck where someone is killed or with great bodily injury.”
According to KFOR, Capt. Hamton disagrees with Sifer’s assertion, stating, “We’re dealing with two different portions of law. One applies to administrative actions and one applies to criminals.”
Hampton says the “no refusal” tests are applicable under the criminal actions of the law and would help them convict more drunk drivers.
The Oklahoma State Patrol already conducts “no refusal” operations in the state, but wants to expand the program to additional areas all they need to do is convince more judges to be on call when they need a warrant signed.
Most would agree that driving while intoxicated is a big mistake, one that many people make with severe consequences including a minimum of 10 days of jail. Convicted offenders will deal with the consequences of their mistake for years to come unless they hire an Oklahoma City criminal attorney to build a solid defense. With legal help you can avert conviction and keep the charge off a person’s record.