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What Oklahoma drivers need to know about the state’s implied consent law

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2023 | Criminal Law |

From the earliest moments of a traffic stop, the goal of a police officer will often be to gather evidence that someone has violated state law. When it comes to traffic stops related to concerns of chemical impairment at the wheel, officers may use multiple methods to substantiate their claim that someone is drunk at the wheel.

They may ask the driver questions, followed by asking them to perform a field sobriety test to see if they may have committed a driving under the influence (DUI) offense. Their attempt to gather evidence will typically culminate in a request for a chemical breath test. Under Oklahoma state law, most drivers could get arrested if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, although there are stricter limits that apply to people in certain situations.

Some people, afraid of implicating themselves, may refuse that breath test request. In doing so, they will typically run afoul of Oklahoma’s implied consent law, depending on when the test is requested.

What the implied consent law does

Oklahoma has a statute that limits people’s driving privileges by requiring that they submit to testing if a police officer has probable cause to believe that they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The implied consent law specifically imposes penalties on those who decline specific kinds of testing. Refusing to take a pocket breath test won’t result in penalties but refusing to take a test upon arrest will.

An implied consent law only results in licensing penalties, although it can influence a DUI case as well. A judge can suspend someone’s driver’s license because they refuse to chemical breath test. At first offense results in a suspension that lasts for six months, while a second will lead to another 12 months without a license. Drivers often have to install an ignition interlock device when they regain their licenses.

People can challenge breath test results

Refusing to submit to testing could prove a legal issue for someone who has been pulled over on suspicion of impaired driving. However, those that do fail a breath test will typically have the option of contesting the accuracy of those test results in criminal court.

Understanding the laws that apply during a DUI traffic stop can help those who are worried about getting arrested to make more informed choices. Additionally, speaking with an experienced legal professional can help those who are already facing charges to make informed decisions about their criminal defense options.