New law re­duces price of speed­ing

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - BY NOLAN CLAY Staff Writer nclay@oklahoman.com

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

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