As Oklahoma City accident attorneys, it’s our duty to stay up-to-date on the latest legal developments in Oklahoma. One major new law that goes into effect soon is a ban on texting while driving in Oklahoma. This law could easily affect you and your loved ones, and it also has some provisions you need to be aware of.
What does this mean for Oklahoma drivers?
The law itself prohibits a driver from texting, voice texting, updating social media, and sending e-mails while the car is moving.
A driver may use these phone functions only if the vehicle is stopped. Driving while talking on the phone does not fall under this law. As for GPS, an officer may pull a driver over if they look distracted by their phone.
Effectively, a law enforcement officer will have “reasonable suspicion” to pull over a moving vehicle if the officer reasonably believes that the driver of the vehicle was texting while driving. Whether the driver was actually and in fact texting will be irrelevant to the lawfulness of the stop itself. If it appears that a person is texting, then they may be lawfully stopped.
There is no doubt that a law to limit and prevent texting while driving will decrease carelessness on the road and increase attentiveness of Oklahoma drivers. Many would argue that this law is long overdue. Oklahoma law makers were pushed to make this move following an accident in Oklahoma City involving two Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers.
Oklahoma drivers need to remember that they have certain rights that prohibit a law enforcement officer from searching the contents of their phone and the inside of their vehicle under various circumstances.
I would advise all Oklahoma drivers to please adhere to the law and stay off of their phones while driving. I would remind the same drivers that they are entitled to certain rights. If pulled over for this offense and an officer asks to search your vehicle, kindly state that you would refuse such a search. Also remember, a police officer cannot search the contents of a cell phone on the side of the road without a specific search warrant. As a rule of thumb, always be polite and courteous to law enforcement if you are ever pulled over. Do not consent to any searches and if applicable, ask the officer what the basis for the stop is and the reason that he or she desires to search your vehicle. If you are pulled over on suspicion of texting and driving and an officer subsequently discovers illegal activity or illegal objects within your vehicle, you may have a case that our office can handle.
As stated, the law will go into effect November 1, 2015. First-time violators will be subject to a $100 fine.
Author: James J. Biscone, Attorney at Law, Johnson & Biscone