OKLAHOMA CITY — There is a controversial new plan that pushes for “no refusal” operations during holidays and high travel weekends. Proponents say it could lead to more DUI convictions.
What law enforcement officials believe is a good move, others say, “not so fast.” In fact, some believe it violates Oklahoma’s rights.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol may no longer take no for answer.
Capt. Ronnie Hampton, with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol says, “One of the enforcement things we can do, that people have seen drastically reduces the DUI rates, is no refusal operations.”
OHP is running “no refusal” operations in southern counties like Pontotoc.
Normally a driver, suspected of driving under the influence, can refuse to take a breath or alcohol test. Now, with technology, getting a search warrant immediately for breath and blood tests is possible if a suspect refuses.
“If they say no, we mail of an affidavit to the DPS,” Capt. Hampton says. “Then we draft up a search warrant.”
They email the warrant to a judge.
“If they feel that probable cause exists, they put an electronic signature on it and send it right back to us,” Capt. Hampton says.
Then the suspect is taken to a medical facility for the test.
Some say this goes too far.
Charles Sifers, Attorney at Law says, “Where then do you go beyond the lines of protecting the public and threaten the protection of the individuals.”
Sifers says “no refusal” goes against state laws.
“We have a statute titled 47 sections 7-5-3. It allows us to refuse a chemical test if we’re placed under arrest for DUI,” Sifers says. “If they refuse the test; and this is a quote, ‘none shall be given except where there is a car wreck where someone is killed or with great bodily injury.’”
Hampton says Sifers is only talking about one side of the law.
“We’re dealing with two different portions of law. One applies to administrative actions and one applies to criminals,” Hamptons says.
Capt. Hampton says under the criminal side they can get these warrants. He hopes it will lead to more convictions.
“31 percent of our DUI cases people refused to take our test,” Capt. Hampton explains.
Sifers says Oklahomans should beware.
“It’s been my experience practicing law that if a right is taken from an individual it is very rarely given back,” Sifers says.
OHP tells us that they want to get more “no refusal” operations active all around the state.
Right now, it’s a matter of getting judges on board because they need to be ready to respond at all hours of the night.