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The Oklahoma Legal Group Blog

Potential New DUI Laws Blocked by Lawsuit

Adam Banner - Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New DUI laws which were set to go into effect on November 1, 2017, have been temporarily blocked due to a lawsuit filed by multiple Oklahoma attorneys.

Oklahoma City and Tulsa DUI attorneys filed the lawsuit alleging that the “2017 Impaired Driving Elimination Act 2” is unconstitutional because it violates Oklahoma's single-subject rule, According to Article V, Section 57 of the Oklahoma Constitution, "[e]very act of the Legislature shall embrace but one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title..."

 

The lawsuit also alleges that the 2017 Impaired Driving Elimination Act 2 contains "multiple troubling provisions." The attorneys specifically focus on issues that could create a violation of due process protections to every individual with a driver's license. Consequently, the lawsuit requested that the Oklahoma Supreme Court assume original jurisdiction because the case presents issues of extraordinary public interest and great urgency.

In issuing the stay, or block, of the law prior to it going into effect, the Oklahoma Supreme Court had to first assume original jurisdiction, becauseone can't simply file a lawsuit in the state's highest court without proper justification and assurances that the Court has original jurisdiction. The usual course is to file a lawsuit in a state district court, litigate the issues, and then appeal up though the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals and then to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

However, in certain circumstances such as this case, there is a process to "fast track" a case to the Oklahoma Supreme Court by requesting the ability to originally file the case in that Court as opposes to a lower district court. Here, the Supreme Court agreed to assume original jurisdiction, so any decision that is made will be binding and final in regards to Oklahoma state law, unless and until the losing party tries to appeal up through the federal system.

In regards to the "single-subject rule" argument the lawsuit is based on, the DUI attorneys allege that the 2017 Impaired Driving Elimination Act 2 contains 17 sections, which in turn encompass eight different subjects: revocation and modification of driver's license for non-impaired driving offenses; license destruction; creation of an impaired driver diversion program; bond requirements; criminal liability for refusing a breath test; notice requirements for prosecutors; and admission of evidence in criminal trials.

Perhaps most troubling for your average person is the potential criminal liability that the 2017 Impaired Driving Elimination Act 2 hopes to impose when a person refuses to take a breath test after they are arrested for DUI. The new potential crime would be a misdemeanor that could carry up to 10 days in county jail and a $1,000.00 fine.

The new potential crime for "refusing to blow" could have wide spread consequences due to the general public's already-existing difficulty in understanding when one should or should not submit to a breathalyzer if pulled over for DUI. When people learns that I am a criminal defense attorney, some have questions. The majority of those questions revolve around DUIs and whether or not they should submit to the state's test (blow in the breathalyzer) or refuse.

Most people already don't realize the current consequences for a refusal of the state's test, which can lead to much longer requirements for interlock installation on their vehicles. Judging by how uneducated the public already is on the issue of their rights and responsibilities during a stop for suspected DUI, it is easy to foresee even more confusion if and when the 2017 Impaired Driving Elimination Act 2 does officially go into effect.

If put into law, the 2017 Impaired Driving Elimination Act 2 would also revoke licenses for non-impaired driving offenses such as leaving the scene of an accident, failing to pay for gasoline, and failing to stop for a school bus.


 






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