New law reduces price of speeding
Speeding along Oklahoma highways is about to get a lot less expensive in most cases.
A new law will cut the cost of a basic speeding ticket by more than half — from $224.50 to $100.
The law goes into effect in early August and will expire Nov. 1, 2020.
“This legislation will provide a good trial period to see if these changes will result in more tickets, which should discourage motorists from speeding as well as generate revenue for the courts,” Gov. Mary Fallin said.
Legislators agreed to the change because Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers have been writing far fewer tickets to drivers going 1 to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.
The ticket drop has had a drastic impact on the Oklahoma judiciary and others that depend on payments from traffic violations to operate.
The goal of the new law is to spark troopers to write more tickets, enough to get funding back up despite the lower ticket cost.
“I’m hopeful that it will be a win-winwin situation,” said Sen. Anthony Sykes, the principal author of Senate Bill 1203.
The Moore Republican acted after hearing both from troopers and from constituents about how unfair the cost had become for even going a few miles per hour over the speed limit.
He recalled one patrol captain “would tell us ... there are several easy decisions that you make out there like getting bad people off the road and drunk people off the road and things like that but the hard decisions are, hey, early December, you pull over a family with three kids ... and the least you can hit them with is ... $225 bucks out of their pocket at Christmastime.”
He said troopers have told him they are now writing only two to three tickets out of every 15 motorists pulled over for going 1 to 10 miles per hour over the limit.
The rest get warnings.
The senator said the downward trend in ticket writing would have continued if nothing had been done. He pointed out that
troopers would just need to write tickets six times out of every 15 stops for the funding level to go up.
“It’s an experiment and I hope it turns out to be a good one but time will tell,” Sykes said.
The experiment is risky.
Last year, 20,900 speeding tickets were issued on Oklahoma highways for the basic violation of 1 to 10 miles per hour over the limit, records show. The state will lose $2.6 million next year if the pace of ticket writing stays the same.
“Will it pick up? Probably yes,” said Trooper Keith Barenberg, president of the Oklahoma State Troopers Association. “I feel like we will eventually write more speeding tickets but there will still be plenty of warnings.”
The change only involves those speeding tickets filed at county courthouses for 1 to 10 miles per hour over the limit. Most of those tickets came from traffic stops by troopers. Others came from stops made by sheriff’s deputies.
The expense of exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour remains unchanged at more than $250.
The new law does not apply to the cost of speeding tickets filed in municipal courts after traffic stops by police.
The Senate in March passed a version of the bill, 38-5.
The House in April passed an amended version of the bill, 86-0. The Senate accepted the amended version a few days later by a 40-3 vote.
Fallin signed the bill into law last week.
“Senate Bill 1203 is a reasonable approach to deal with speeding tickets, which have gone up in cost the past several years through the addition of various fees,” the governor said. “The ticket costs are excessive, especially to low- and middle-income families.
“It is hoped that setting limits on costs and fees of speeding tickets will remove any hesitancy troopers may have on issuing them because of their price.”
If the change is deemed a success, legislators will have to act again to keep the basic speeding ticket cost at $100 past Nov. 1, 2020.
Senate Bill 1203 is a reasonable approach to deal with speeding tickets, which have gone up in cost the past several years through the addition of various fees. The ticket costs are excessive, especially to low- and middleincome families. It is hoped that setting limits on costs and fees of speeding tickets will remove any hesitancy troopers may have on issuing them because of their price.” Gov. Mary Fallin