What is Legal and What isn’t?
Oklahoma has done what Texas couldn’t.
On November 1, 2015, Oklahoma became the 46th state to ban the practice of texting while driving. The new law makes it illegal to “operate a motor vehicle on any street or highway within this state while using a hand-held electronic communication device to manually compose, send or read an electronic text message while the vehicle is in motion.”
Electronic messages include text messages, images, and emails. A hand-held electronic communication device includes cell phones and smartphones, but does not include hands-free devices which allow a user to compose messages by voice activation.
Exceptions for Emergency Messages
The new law makes exceptions for emergency communications. It is legal to use your phone for the sole purpose of communicating with any of the following regarding an imminent emergency situation:
- An emergency response operator.
- A hospital, physician’s office or health clinic.
- A law enforcement agency.
- A provider of firefighting services.
- A provider of ambulance services.
Texting is a primary offense. A law enforcement officer may stop you and issue a citation, without observing any other offense. A violation carries a fine up to $100. The violation, however, will not count toward revocation of your license.
Photo credit: Alan Poulson.