Just one shy of 250 new state laws went into effect Nov. 1. The 249 mandates range from additions to misdemeanors and felonies, to online voter registration and even the use of “EPI-pens”, Here are a few of the new laws that could be costly for violators.
On Nov. 1 The Ardmoreite featured two local Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers, Heath Green and Daniel Arms, who were lending their voices to a campaign promoting the Trooper Nicholas Dees and Trooper Keith Burch Act. The law changes the state’s existing “U drive. U text. U pay” law by giving law enforcement the authority to pull over any driver seen texting, even though no other traffic violation has been observed. The penalty? A $100 fine.
Capt. Allen Henry, Commander OHP Troop F, headquartered in Ardmore, calls the new law an important piece of legislation and a tool law enforcement can use to save lives. Henry vows area troopers will be working “diligently” to enforce the new statute.
However, while others say they support the new law, they don’t think the statute’s teeth are sharp enough.
“I think the ban is a good idea but may be too narrowly tailored,” says District Attorney Craig Ladd.
The district attorney’s thought was echoed by Ardmore Police Chief Ken Grace and Carter County Sheriff Milton Anthony.
“Although I just don’t think it goes far enough, the APD will be actively working to enforce it,” Grace says.
“While I’m for it, I’m not sure how effective it’s going to be,” Anthony responded.
The new seatbelt/child restraint law requires all children age 8 and younger be in some kind of car or booster seat. The statute mandates all children under 2 must be in a rear-facing car seat. Those ages 2 to 4 can use a front-facing car seat, and children over 4 but have not reached their 8th birthday or are shorter than 4-feet 9-inches tall must be in some kind of car or booster seat. Children between 8 and 13 must also be buckled up. Law enforcement is authorized to pull over and ticket drivers not complying.
Grace and Anthony both say there is no question they support laws geared to protect child passengers and their departments will be proactive in enforcing the new law.
Ardmore Fire Chief Cary Williamson and Amber Wilson, Ardmore Emergency Management, say the city has a program in place to help drivers make sure their child carseats/child restraints are properly installed and offer low-cost child carseats for those who need them.
“While there will be no program during December, during the other 11 months of the year drivers can come to Ardmore Fire Department Station One, on Rockford Road, between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. on the third Friday of each month and child carseats will be checked or installed. We will also provide carseats for those who need them for a cost of just $10 each,” Wilson said, adding the program will restart in January.
Assault of an off -duty law enforcement officers has become a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
“This is something that has needed to happen. While officers aren’t always on duty, even when they are off duty if they see a crime happening they are obligated to react,” Anthony says.
Grace used just four words. “It’s a good deal.”
APD Detective Matt Dunn, spokesperson for Ardmore’ FOP says, “Our members are very pleased with the new legislation passed this year. Officers across the state have been concerned with this issue for some time. There are situations that arise in which we are called upon to protect the public whether on or off duty. Sadly, officers have had concern during their off times due to increased violence towards police. There are people who stalk, threaten and assault officers when they’re off the clock simply out of revenge. Officers deserve the right to have off duty time without fear of violence towards them. Our officers are committed to serve and protect our community whether on or off duty night or day. We are grateful for the new legislation to protect us during these times.”