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Oklahoma Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Challenge to DUI Law


The Oklahoma Supreme Court should soon rule on the constitutionality of another law passed during the regular legislative session.

The justices heard arguments Tuesday in a challenge of a new impaired driving law set to take effect Nov. 1.

Four DUI attorneys are suing the state, saying Senate Bill 643 violates the single-subject rule. Attorney Brian Morton said the law's stated purpose is administrative monitoring of impaired driving offenders.

"Well, there are sections in this bill that deal with how breath tests are to be admitted into a criminal proceeding," Morton said. "... There's the creation of a new law that says we are going to charge you with a crime if you refuse to take the breath test."

Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani said making it a misdemeanor to refuse breath or blood tests is an integral piece of the law.

"That's the whole point of these implied consent statutes. We want people to take these tests so we can separate the guilty from the innocent when it comes to impaired driving," Mansinghani said.

Opponents of the law also said a June executive order from Governor Mary Fallin objecting to part of the law is effectively a pocket veto and her suggestions to fix it violates separation of powers, and that the law requires driver’s licenses to be seized without due process.

The justices asked why the challenge is being made before anyone has been affected by the law.

"While his case goes pending through the courts, hundreds of arrests are being made simultaneously," attorney Sonja Porter said about the first potential defendant under the law. "Hundreds of licenses are being seized and destroyed while we're waiting for the one case to adjudicate."

The court has yet to rule in the case.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.