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"No refusal" sobriety tests becoming more prevalent in Oklahoma

The right to refuse a blood test may soon be tougher to take advantage of if the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has their way. The OHP has begun to institute "no refusal" operations on high travel weekends and holidays. Some say that the Highway Patrol has overstepped their legal authority.

On a normal stop by the Highway Patrol, a driver can refuse to take a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. However, during the "no refusal" periods that the OHP is implementing, the Highway Patrol can immediately get a search warrant. They send an affidavit electronically to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, who then draft a search warrant. A judge can then sign the warrant electronically if there is probable cause, and the officer takes the owner of the stopped vehicle to a medical facility for blood alcohol content tests.

The OHP claims that these "no refusal" operations result in more DUI convictions, and that 31 percent of those stopped refuse to take a breath test. The Highway Patrol claims that it is within their rights to enforce criminal laws this way. A local attorney, however, points to a state statute that prohibits a test if the driver refuses it, except in a situation where there is a death or serious injury due to a car accident. For now, however, it appears that the OHP is continuing to expand the program of "no refusal" DUI stops.

A BAC level over the legal limit can result in serious penalties. The outcome can be fines, license suspension, or even jail time. A competent DWI defense attorney may be able to avoid these serious penalties, either by finding inconsistencies or breath test errors, or through a plea bargain agreement.

Source: KFOR, "OHP pushes for ‘no refusal’ sobriety tests", Ted Malave and Meg Alexander, July 30, 2013

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