Oklahoma Cell Phone Laws for Drivers

If you polled a group of Oklahoma drivers, most would probably affirm that texting and driving is dangerous. Many would likely agree that talking on the phone and driving is risky, too. But despite this, one recent poll showed that 66% of active drivers admit to using their phone while driving. 

Phone use while driving poses a high risk of accidents and injury. Regardless, many Oklahomans continue to text, talk, watch videos, scroll social media, search the internet, and use other apps while driving. Oklahoma laws currently don’t directly address many of these types of cell phone use. 

The team at Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst is made up of experienced auto accident attorneys in Oklahoma, and this article has important information about Oklahoma driving and using cell phone laws. If you need help from a car accident attorney because a distracted driver caused permanent or catastrophic injuries to you or a loved one, or even death to a loved one, contact Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst today for a free case consultation

2024 Oklahoma Cell Phone Laws 

It’s expected that in the 2024 legislative session, at least one bill will be proposed to govern the use of cell phones while driving and outline penalties for those who do not abide by the bill if the bill becomes law.  The bill will be proposed as a means to try to ensure safety for those using Oklahoma roadways. 

Last year, in the February 2023 legislative session, a proposed bill authored by Representative Ross Ford of Broken Arrow sought to deter phone-related distracted driving in Oklahoma. This bill, House Bill 2228, outlined a ban on operating a motor vehicle while the driver is holding or using a handheld cellular telephone or other electronic device when the car is in motion. The bill made it out of committee but was never heard by the full house. 

Regardless of the changes that may come to Oklahoma laws about phones and driving this year, all drivers need to understand Oklahoma’s current distracted driving laws and how cell phone use is limited by law while operating a vehicle. 

Oklahoma Laws About Cell Phones and Driving 

Talking While Driving 

While most licensed drivers operating personal vehicles in Oklahoma face no legal restrictions on using handheld mobile phones or devices for calls while driving, certain exceptions apply. For instance, teenagers and commercial drivers are prohibited from engaging in phone conversations while behind the wheel (although they can use speakerphone or other hands-free technology to talk and drive). Restricting these drivers from talking on the phone helps young drivers create good habits and encourages safe driving for commercial drivers operating heavy semis or large trucks on roadways. 

Experts and law enforcement generally advocate for using hands-free technology, such as speaker phones or Bluetooth-connected speakers, during phone calls while driving to maintain control of the vehicle and stay attentive to the road. However, hands-free technology is not required for Oklahoma drivers who want to talk while driving. Adult drivers in personal vehicles in Oklahoma are permitted to talk on the phone while driving, provided they do so safely and without letting it distract them from driving responsibly.

Driving and Texting in Oklahoma  

In 2015, Oklahoma became the 46th state to ban texting while driving. The ban allows officers to pull over drivers who are texting while operating a vehicle and issue a citation. When the new law went into effect, Oklahomans were reminded that texting and driving remains one of the most prevalent distractions for motorists, and it still is today. Taking your eyes off the road for just five seconds while driving at 55 miles per hour equates to traveling the length of a football field. For pedestrians crossing the road, cyclists sharing the roadways, or other drivers entering your lane, looking away for five seconds can be the difference in life or death.  

According to Oklahoma law, texting while driving incurs a $100 fine. This prohibition extends to reading or sending text messages, text-based emails, videos, photos, and instant messages while operating a vehicle. However, this ban does not include utilizing voice-to-text or the voice-operated system integrated into your car.

Distracted Driving in Oklahoma 

Cell phone usage by drivers is one of the leading causes of distracted driving. Distracted driving transcends age groups and demographics, posing a very common and always present threat on the roads. Distracted driving is entirely preventable, yet each year, our team represents families impacted by the consequences of car accidents caused by drivers distracted by their phones. 

Between 2017 and 2021 in Oklahoma, there were 250 fatalities and nearly 8,000 injuries attributed to distracted driving. This data encompasses any activity diverting attention from operating a vehicle. The perils of distracted driving encompass increased accident risks, injuries, speeding violations, and other traffic infractions. We recently wrote an article that explores the causes of distracted driving (including phone use and more) and how to prevent distracted driving. 

Oklahoma’s Commercial Driver Cell Phone Laws 

Oklahoma’s regulations on cell phone use while driving are pretty lenient compared to other states. One category of drivers is required by Oklahoma law to abstain from cell phone usage entirely while driving: commercial and public transportation drivers. Given the elevated risks associated with operating buses, trucks, and other large commercial vehicles, drivers in these roles must devote their full attention to the task of driving.

Limited exceptions permit commercial drivers to use mobile phones under specific circumstances, such as contacting emergency services or accessing GPS information, provided they use voice commands for calls or navigation. 

If you are involved in an accident with a commercial truck, semi, or bus and you suspect the driver was using their cell phone while operating the vehicle, contact our team today. We are experienced attorneys with a proven record of helping Oklahomans seek justice after an accident with a commercial truck or vehicle

Escalated Distracted Driving – Reckless Driving and Negligent Homicide  

Distracted driving often escalates to reckless driving, an offense punishable by law. Engaging in careless driving behaviors that jeopardize others’ safety, such as texting while driving through red lights or speeding in school zones, can result in fines and imprisonment. 

Oklahoma statutes define reckless driving as “any person to drive a motor vehicle in a careless or wanton manner without regard for the safety of persons or property or in violation of the conditions outlined in Section 11-801 of this title.”  

Additionally, the consequences of reckless driving can be severe. The statute continues on to say, “Every person convicted of reckless driving shall be punished upon a first conviction by imprisonment for a period of not less than five (5) days nor more than ninety (90) days, or by a fine of not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment; on a second or subsequent conviction, punishment shall be imprisonment for not less than ten (10) days nor more than six (6) months, or by a fine of not less than One Hundred Fifty Dollars ($150.00) nor more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.” 

Negligent homicide, stemming from reckless or negligent driving that unintentionally causes fatalities, carries severe consequences, including fines, imprisonment, and a revoked license

Other Results of Mobile Phone Use While Driving 

Beyond legal repercussions and fines, victims of distracted driving accidents commonly pursue compensation through civil lawsuits with the help of car accident lawyers. Distracted drivers may be held accountable for injuries and damages resulting from accidents even if not charged criminally. Other consequences of distracted driving include the potential of escalated insurance premiums and suspended licenses. 

If you have been the victim of a car accident and sustained serious injury, and the other driver was using their phone while operating their vehicle, contact our team for a free consultation

Find Help From Oklahoma’s Trusted Car Accident Attorneys

If you or a family member has been the victim of a distracted driving accident, an experienced car accident attorney on the Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst team can help you understand your rights in Oklahoma following an auto accident. 

Our Oklahoma City-based lawyers help families throughout Oklahoma after serious car accidents. We would be honored to help you. Contact our team today for a free consultation.  

Related Articles

I Suspect Nursing Home Abuse – What Do I Do?

In this short guide, we’ll provide you with the necessary steps to take if you suspect nursing home abuse. We believe it will empower you to protect your loved one’s rights and seek justice. If you’re ready for a free case evaluation, contact us today.

Read More