Oklahoma speed-trap bill clears hurdle

| Monday, March 10, 2003

An Oklahoma House bill to crack down on certain speed traps in small towns that use them as moneymakers has cleared a legislative hurdle.

HB1456 overwhelmingly passed the House Feb. 27 by a 96-2 vote. It is headed to the Senate for consideration.

The bill was written to allow the state’s public safety commissioner to crack down on speed trap misuse.

Several states, including Arkansas, Texas and Missouri, have passed laws to limit the amount of money a community can keep from police fines, but in Oklahoma, the sky is the limit. For that reason, towns like Stringtown, Big Cabin, Caney, Valley Brook, Moffett, Asher and Watts are well known to truckers and motorists alike. According to an investigation by The Oklahoman, at least 18 communities in the state get more than 26 percent of their money from police fines.

HB1456 could change all that. Sponsored by Speaker of the House Larry Adair, D-Stilwell, the bill could result in certain municipalities losing the authority to write all those speeding tickets.

Under the proposed bill, Public Safety Commissioner Bob Ricks would be given the power to take local law enforcers off certain state highways and interstates and reassign those roads to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

In addition, the bill would give Ricks the authority to further investigate complaints of municipalities operating speed traps.

A spokeswoman in Adair’s office said the bill would be assigned to a Senate committee sometime in the next week.

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