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Distracted Driving Laws in Oklahoma

Posted on: April 29, 2020

Woman driver texting while driving.

Is It Illegal to Text and Drive in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, distracted driving in general is prohibited by 47 OK Stat. §47-11-901b, which requires drivers to “devote their full time and attention to such driving.”

In addition, Oklahoma state lawmakers have passed a texting-while-driving statute entitled “The Trooper Nicholas Dees and Trooper Keith Burch Act of 2015.” It was named for two Oklahoma state troopers who had been hit by a distracted driver. Upon going into effect, the law made it illegal for drivers to operate their motor vehicle while using a “hand-held electronic communication device” to write, send, or read a text message while the vehicle is moving. As a result, it is illegal for any driver on Oklahoma roads to text while they are driving.

Unlike some other states’ texting-while-driving bans, Oklahoma’s law is considered a primary offense. That means that a law enforcement officer can pull a driver over just because the officer witnesses a driver using his or her cell phone to apparently send a text message. The officer does not need to witness any other traffic offense in order to initiate a traffic stop.

The law does not apply to use of cell phones in emergency situations, such as communicating with 911, hospitals, physicians’ offices, ambulance services, fire departments, or law enforcement agencies.

What Are the Penalties for Texting and Driving in Oklahoma?

Violating the texting-while-driving ban can result in a $100 fine. The law also prohibits teen drivers from using their cell phones to make phone calls (subject to the emergency exception). Adult drivers may use phones to make calls with or without hands-free equipment. If a teen driver violates the law, he or she may have his or her driving privileges suspended.

If a driver is shown to have been texting and driving in the moments leading up to an auto accident and the driver’s distraction can be shown to have been the cause of the accident, the driver may also be held liable in a civil lawsuit for any injuries or damages to other people that are caused by the accident.

A conviction for texting and driving may serve as the basis for a negligence per se claim in a car accident lawsuit, since texting and driving in violation of the law may allow negligence to be presumed as a matter of law. However, an accident victim may still be able to recover compensation from a distracted driver who causes a crash even if the driver is never charged with breaking the law, the charges are dropped, or the driver is acquitted. The criminal matter is separate from the civil matter and carries a lower burden of proof.

What Should I Do If I Get Caught Texting and Driving in Oklahoma?

If you are pulled over by the police, or if you are involved in an accident while you were texting in the moments leading up to the accident, you should avoid saying anything about texting while driving to the police, to the other driver, or to insurance adjusters.

Instead, you should contact an experienced attorney who can ensure that your rights and interests are best protected. Texting while driving can lead to serious consequences, depending on the circumstances of your case, that range from a fine to suspension of your license, to potentially being liable for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages in a civil lawsuit.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a texting-while-driving accident in Oklahoma, contact Edwards & Patterson Law today to schedule a free consultation with our Tulsa distracted driving accident attorneys to discuss the details of your case and to learn more about your legal rights and options.

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  • Contact Edwards & Patterson Law Firm today for a free consultation.
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