Oklahoma speed-trap bill heads to governor

| 6/2/2003
A bill to crack down on certain speed traps in small Oklahoma towns that use them as moneymakers is headed to the governor. HB1456 zipped through the House May 27 by a 91-8 vote, then passed the Senate 38-5 on May 28.

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, Glenpool, Big Cabin, Caney, Valley Brook, Tushka, Asher and Watts are well known to truckers and motorists alike.

"There are a number of areas across the state where we think traffic citations are being abused," the bill's sponsor, House Speaker Larry Adair, D-Stilwell, said in a statement.

According to an investigation by The Oklahoman, eight cities and towns in the state get more than 50 percent of their money from police fines, and at least 18 communities in the state get more than 26 percent of their money from police fines.

Adair's proposal could change all that. The bill could result in certain municipalities losing the authority to write all those speeding tickets.

Under the bill, the public safety commissioner 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 the commissioner the authority to further investigate complaints of municipalities operating speed traps.