Texting and driving ban goes into effect Nov. 1 - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Texting and driving ban goes into effect Nov. 1

LAWTON, Okla._Starting November 1, texting while driving on Lawton streets may result in a ticket.

The ordinance was approved by the Lawton City Council in August. It mirrors the state law that makes it illegal to drive while composing, sending or reading an electronic message. That includes texting, instant messaging, sending a photo or video and even sending an email.

Police will be looking for the signs of distracted driving while using a cellphone; looking down repetitively, both hands not on the wheel and noticing if the person is holding a phone in their hand. Police say with negative statistics piling up over the years, they believe removing texting while driving from Lawton streets can make a difference.

"In my 10 years, just from what I have witnessed, I would say yes that it can save lives," Lieutenant Justin Thorne of the Lawton Police Department said.

Lieutenant Thorne is in charge of the Patrol Division of the Lawton Police Department. He says when you get behind the wheel, you are taking your lives and the lives of others in your hands.

"You are operating a very heavy 3,000-, 4,000-, 5,000-pound weapon. It can very easily become a weapon. A split second taking your eyes off the wheel, taking it off what you are trying to do it can be a life changer," Lt. Thorne explained.

Lieutenant Thorne says by state law, officers are to use their own discretion to decide whether or not someone is breaking the law on a case-by-case basis.

"Every situation is going to be investigated. Every stop is going to be investigated and it is ultimately up to the officer that makes the stop, as to what he witnesses, as to whether a citation will be issued or not in that situation," Lt. Thorne explained.

He says he has made all the officers on patrol aware of the upcoming change, and they’ll keep their eyes open for those texting while driving on Lawton city streets come November 1.

"I can't say that our number of tickets would increase, but our officers are definitely going to be more aware and they will be out aggressively enforcing the new ordinance," Lt. Thorne said.

First responders and doctors are the only ones that will be exempt from the ordinance. If you are caught texting while driving, the ticket can be no more than $100.

The city ordinance passed by the City Council means that the law can be enforced in municipal court, instead of taking it to district court.

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