Last month in Oklahoma, if an officer asked you to take a sobriety test and you refused, your license could be suspended for six months … and if you wanted to appeal that decision, you’d need to go through the Department of Public Safety to do it.

As of this month, that’s no longer the case.

According to KXII-TV, Oklahomans can now appeal DUI decisions in a courtroom. More importantly, there’s a whole new system of consequences in place for handling DUIs, encouraging drivers to take the sobriety test and face the consequences rather than avoiding arrest (to their own detriment).

That’s due to Senate Bill 712, which introduces the Impaired Driver Accountability Program (IDAP), KOKH FOX 25 News reported. Rather than instantly revoking their licenses, the new law requires DUI offenders to use an ignition interlock for a period of time.

“An alcohol ignition interlock is a breath-test device connected to a vehicle’s ignition,” the CDC said. “The vehicle will not start unless the driver blows into the interlock and has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) below a pre-set low limit.”

As of November 1, 2019, if you’re pulled over in Oklahoma for DUI, you have 30 days to ask to join IDAP. If the court approves your request for participation, you pay $200 and commit to install the interlock within 45 days. If it’s your first offense, the period is set for six months; second-offenders must use the interlock for a year; third-offenders, for three years. The law also stipulates that if you make three offenses within five years, your interlock requirement would last at least five years but possibly longer.

In other words, offenders have options. The $200 participation fee is much cheaper than what drivers had to pay before. Also, they get to keep their licenses.

The goal here is not to go easy on drunk driving. Law enforcement officials say the new program sends a clear message. It’s also designed to reduce recidivism without completely unraveling an offender’s life, helping them achieve safer driving habits instead of meting out severe punishments that don’t actually affect individual behavior or improve public safety.

After all, losing your license is a severe consequence: tantamount to having your life thrown away, according to Captain Scott Hampton of Oklahoma Highway Patrol, reported KXII-TV. If you can’t drive, you’ll likely lose your job. If you can’t work, you’ll lose your financial stability and probably your home too, throwing your entire life into jeopardy. It’s easy to spiral downward from there (while getting hit with additional consequences if you choose to drive anyway).

This is not a constructive outcome for anyone: the individual or the community. Sobriety, not suffering, is the goal of the new law.

“A driver that’s sober is a success for us,” said Captain Hampton.

Senate Bill 712 didn’t happen overnight. KOKH FOX 25 News said the law “was originally introduced back in 2017 but was overturned by the State Supreme Court.” The current bill is an amended version of the original.

But the difference it makes will be lasting. According to Frank Urbanic with Urbanic Law Firm in Oklahoma City, KOKH FOX 25 News said, it’s “probably the biggest change to D.U.I. law in decades.”

Takeaway? If you or someone you know makes the mistake of driving under the influence, you may want to take the sobriety test. This allows you to face the consequences for your behavior – and keep your driver’s license.

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