A primary aspect of a DUI investigation is the use of a person’s breath, blood, or urine to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Oklahoma, like all other states, has implied consent laws that generally require drivers to submit to testing when lawfully arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).
Current Law. Oklahoma law currently indicates that any person who operates a vehicle within the state is deemed to have given consent to BAC testing. If an officer has made an arrest for driving under the influence or if the person was involved in a traffic accident fatality, the officer is required to request the person submit to a breath test. Under certain circumstances—such as driver being unconscious—the officer may request that medical personnel take a blood sample to determine BAC.
LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS TO CHANGE THE LAW
In June 2017, Oklahoma made a drastic amendment to the implied consent law, changing the duration of suspensions, criminalizing breath test refusals, and creating the Impaired Driver Accountability Program. However, in December 2017, the amendment was ruled unconstitutional and preempted, thus reverting all implied consent laws to their prior versions. In 2018, the legislature again began working to amend the implied consent laws but has yet to pass any new legislation.
Your constitutional right to refuse blood testing. The United States Supreme Court has said that a driver generally has the right to refuse and revoke consent to a warrantless blood test. In other words, without a warrant, an officer cannot force a nonconsenting driver to provide a blood test. However, the Supreme Court’s ruling insulates the driver only from the criminal consequences of a blood test refusal. The state can still impose administrative consequences for a refusal such as license suspension and revocation, evidentiary consequences, and license fees.
State law refusal rights. Oklahoma state law provides drivers with a right to refuse testing that applies to breath, blood, and urine testing. The law prohibits officers from forcing a driver to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample without a warrant, unless the driver was involved in a serious or fatal accident. However, the right to refuse testing—while it prevents police from physically forcing a person to test—doesn’t insulate the driver from facing consequences as the result of the refusal (see below).
While Oklahoma drivers have the right to refuse to submit to testing, such refusal will result in certain repercussions.
License suspension. Drivers who refuse to submit to a lawful request for a breath, blood, or urine test will have their license seized and revoked for 180 days to three years, following by 18 months to five years of an ignition interlock device restriction. However, it’s possible for this suspension to be modified to allow the licensee to operate a vehicle with an ignition interlock device (IID). The license suspension for a refusal is separate from the criminal DUI charge and can be imposed even if the criminal charge is ultimately dismissed.
Evidentiary uses. The fact that a driver refused to submit to testing can actually be used against them at trial. While refusal might not be sufficient on its own to prove intoxication, the prosecution can argue that the defendant’s refusal is an indicator tending to show that the person was intoxicated. And a BAC test isn’t required for a jury to find a driver guilty of DUI.
Warrant. When drivers refuse to submit to BAC testing, the arresting officers have the option of seeking a warrant to obtain a blood draw. Once a warrant is obtained, the driver cannot refuse testing. Police can then require the driver to submit a blood drawn—by force, if necessary.
If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence in Oklahoma, you should get in touch with an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Implied consent and DUI law is constantly changing, and the facts of each case are unique. A qualified DUI attorney can let you know how the law applies in your case.