New Oklahoma Texting Law Now in Effect

November 3, 2015

A new law making it illegal to text and drive in Oklahoma has received plenty of attention, but it’s just one of more than 250 laws enacted on Nov. 1.

People caught reading or writing texts or emails while driving will be fined $100 under the Trooper Nicholas Dees and Trooper Keith Burch Act of 2015.

Dees was killed and Burch was seriously injured when a man accused of texting while driving crashed into them in January while they were working an accident scene on Interstate 40.

“Trooper Nic Dees never made it home to his family, just like dozens of other Oklahomans each year who are killed by distracted driving,” Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson said. “Not only is texting while driving senseless, it is selfish.”

Thompson added that “troopers and their families are very happy that this law was passed because they deal with the consequences of distracted driving every day.”

At the time of the texting bill’s signing by Gov. Mary Fallin, Oklahoma became the 46th state to ban the practice of texting while driving.

Among the other new laws are several that target Oklahoma’s steadily increasing prison population. Currently, there are more than 28,000 inmates, a number expected to grow by about 800 inmates by the end of June.

One law, dubbed the Justice Safety Valve Act, would allow judges to deviate from mandatory minimum sentences for certain nonviolent crimes. It also gives the option of diverting offenders into programs that address drug or mental health issues.

Another new law gives the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board the authority to use electronic monitoring for inmates granted parole, while a separate measure makes it easier for nonviolent offenders on probation to obtain a commercial driver’s license.

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