Oklahoma Distracted Driving Laws
- Handheld ban for drivers with a learner’s permit or intermediate license (Primary Law).
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary Law).
- Ban on texting for bus drivers (Primary Law).
- Ban on texting for drivers with a learner’s permit or intermediate license (Primary Law).
- Preemption Law prohibits localities from enacting distracted driving bans.
Oklahoma’s Texting While Driving Stand
Early on in 2012, two new distracted driving bills have been introduced to Oklahoma legislators. One of the bills seeks to prohibit texting while driving by public employees on the job, while the other would ban the use of handheld electronic devices by teenage drivers holding restricted licenses.
State Rep. Danny Morgan (D-Prague) has indicated that he will continue to craft legislation to ban text messaging while driving. Morgan saw his HB 1316, a 2011 bill to outlaw texting while driving, defeated in the House. However, he continues to cite a “growing coalition of support” for the ban. His 2012 contributions thus far include the bill to ban texting at work by public employees.
AAA has also thrown its support behind anti-texting legislation, saying that 87% of AAA members want the texting and driving ban. The current inattentive driving law, established in 2010, does not specifically ban texting or cell phones but allows for additional penalties if they are involved in accidents or reckless driving.
Current Texting and Driving Prohibitions
Drivers must give their full attention to driving or they can be fined $100. Drivers with temporary licenses or permits may lose their license if they are caught using their cell phones to text or talk while driving.
Bills in Progress (2012)
Senate Bill 182 would prohibit teen drivers from texting while driving. House Bill 2898 would prohibit public employees from texting while driving.
Legislation News (2011-2012)
Sen. Brian Crain of Tulsa proposed SB 182 above. Two of his party members voted against it in committee, but it passed anyway. The bill was filed because of a request by the Oklahoma Department of Health.
Rep. Danny Morgan (D-Prague) has proposed several anti-texting-while-driving bills over the years. His 2011 HB-1316 bill failed, as did SB-146, another 2011 bill he supported. Morgan plans to press this universal anti-texting measure again in the 2012 Oklahoma legislature, citing a “growing coalition of support” for the bill. Supporters include AAA Oklahoma, Farmer’s Insurance, AT&T, SAFE KIDS Oklahoma State, the Oklahoma Safety Council and the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. Morgan’s 2012 bill would also ban the use of cell phones by underage drivers.
Rep. Morgan said that texting while driving was not only committed by young drivers but has become common for all drivers. It needs to be “nipped in the bud,” according to Morgan. Morgan’s co-sponsor, Rep. Paul Roan (D-Tishomingo), brings many years of law enforcement to the legislature. He stated that HB-1316 would be a primary charge but would otherwise be similar to a law already on the books – SB 1908.
Legislation Notes (2010)
In 2010, Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry prohibited all state employees from texting while driving government vehicles, and he spent time urging the Oklahoma legislature to pass measures against distracted driving. He reported referred to texting while driving as a “recipe for absolute disaster.”
HB-3250 was introduced by Rep. Sue Tibbs (R-Tulsa) as a re-introduction to a 2009 bill banning texting while driving, rounding it out with a ban on handheld cell phones.
Spearheaded by Rep. Randy McDaniel (R-Oklahoma City), plans are in the works to introduce mandatory curricula in schools to teach teen drivers about the dangers of texting while driving.
Past Bills (2009)
House Bill 1782 – Outlaws use of cell phones unless used with a hands-free device. Passed House committee but never heard in House.
House Bill 1526 – Prohibits text messaging while driving, with citations given in the event of an accident. Has not yet passed in the House.
Past Bills (2010)
House Bill 2276 – Requires that drivers give “full attention to driving.” If drivers use cell phones or text while driving and cause an accident, they will pay a fine of up to $100 plus court costs of up to $35. Bill passed in March 2010 and took effect in November 2010.
Senate Bill 1908 – Prohibits drivers with temporary licenses or permits from using mobile devices while car is in motion. Revocation of permits/licenses could result. This is a secondary charge, meaning it can only be cited if the driver was doing something else wrong. Bill passed in May 2010 and took effect in November 2010.
House Bill 3250 – bans cell phone use while driving in Oklahoma unless used with hands-free accessories. Fines of up to $1,000. Approved by the House in March 2010 but failed to pass in the Senate.
House Bill 2611 – Prohibits text messaging by all drivers with a fine of $250/500 and two/three points. Has not yet passed in the House.
House Bill 2857 – Outlaws cell phone use and text messaging by public transit, school bus, and railway vehicles, with a fine of $500. Has not yet passed in the House.
Senate Bill 1355 – Bans underage drivers from text messaging while behind the wheel, with a fine of up to $100/250. Has not yet passed in the Senate.
Senate Bill 1386 – Prohibits text messaging by all drivers, with fines of up to $200. Has not yet passed in the Senate.
Senate Bill 1906 – Outlaws use of portable electronic devices while driving, with fines of up to $150. Has not yet passed in the Senate.
Past Bills (2011)
Many bills were introduced to prevent texting while driving in the state of Oklahoma in 2011, but none were passed.
House Bill 1316 – Outlaws texting while driving with a fine of $25. Included use of the mobile devices in a school zone and doing so results in a fine of up to $100. The bill also outlawed texting while driving for teenagers with a fine of $100-500, $100-1000 or $100-2000, depending on first, second or subsequent violations. Repeat violations lead to community service time or license suspension. Approved by House Public Safety Committee but rejected by the House.
House Bill 1340 – Outlaws texting while driving with a fine of up to $500. Rolled into HB 1316.
House Bill 1633 – Outlaws texting while driving in a school zone. Rolled into HB 1316.
Senate Bill 146 – Prohibits text messaging by all Oklahoma drivers with fines of $175 for the first violation and $500 for subsequent violations. Fines are doubled if distracted driving results in an accident. Approved by the Senate but rejected by the House.