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Sunday, December 11th, 2016Last Update: Saturday, October 29th, 2016 06:23:13 PM

Oklahoma Traffic Laws

By: Steve Byas

You are driving home, late at night. Even worse, your wife, mother, or child is driving home late at night. In the rear view mirror, you or a loved one sees a flashing light. The car has no markings to indicate that it is a police, highway patrol, or sheriff's car, but thinking it must be an unmarked police car, you or your loved one pull over.

In a few moments, it becomes apparent that the person who "pulled you over," is not a law enforcement official, but rather a criminal who has stopped you or your loved one, not to write a ticket for some minor traffic infraction, but intends to rob, rape, or kill you.

This scenario plays itself out all too often across the United States. It has happened in Oklahoma. Yet, our lawmakers at Twenty-third and Lincoln seem coldly indifferent to the dangerous situation created by the Unmarked Police Car. Or, perhaps they are ignorant. Whatever the reason, you or a loved one could wind up robbed, raped, or murdered, all to keep the money rolling into the coffers of law enforcement and city governments.

A few years ago, I brought this up with a Republican state Senator, and the senator's response was that the only calls she had gotten on the issue were from supporters of unmarked police cars. When I asked what the callers did for a living, she replied that they were in law enforcement. It seems that police officers can make a little extra dough working overtime in these unmarked cars.

Unmarked cars have their place in the toolbox of undercover cops investigating crimes like murder, robbery, and rape. They have no place in the enforcement of routine traffic laws, jaywalking, and litter bugging.

The driving force behind the use of unmarked police cars in traffic law enforcement is not public safety -- it is revenue enhancement, pure and simple. Why don't lawmakers at the Capitol put a stop to this? Legislators are afraid of the law enforcement lobby -- they don't want to be branded as "anti-law enforcement."

Just for the record, I have never been pulled over by a cop in an unmarked car. And, I'm not against cops. Police officers have tough jobs, and I appreciate their being on the front lines against criminals. I just think they need to go after criminals, not drive around in unmarked police cars, getting overtime and increasing revenue for the city government.

Seat belt laws are another achievement of the Nanny Staters. They are another revenue enhancer for local law enforcement, and another excuse to stop a citizen driving down the road minding his own business. Several years ago, I was in a discussion with someone on the topic of seat belt laws. I said that I always wear my seat belt, but it is not the role of government to tell us to wear one. Government is there to protect us from others hurting us, not to protect us from hurting ourselves.

The person countered that not wearing a seat belt and getting hurt in a car wreck "adds to the cost of the health care system." (And that is how socialized medicine will lead to control over every aspect of our lives, but that is another column). This person liked to go out drinking, and I can guarantee you that alcohol has added to the cost of the health care system far beyond not wearing seat belts has ever done.

Now, we have those who want to ban talking a cell phone while driving. Another law, and another excuse for a law enforcement officer to pull somebody over. The argument is that someone talking on a cell phone is "distracted," and not paying full attention to driving. This is absurd. A person talking on a cell phone is no more distracted than a driver talking to other passengers in the car. If a person is driving down the road "texting," then they are probably distracted, but someone driving down the road with a phone in his ear is no more distracted than someone listening to the radio.

We already have laws on the books in which a person can be ticketed for not paying attention to their driving. If someone is truly distracted to the point that they are a danger to others on the road, stop them. Give them a warning, or even a ticket, but let's don't add another law to the books which makes a liberal feel better.

About Steve Byas

Steve Byas is editor of the Oklahoma Constitution newspaper. He may be contacted at: byassteve@yahoo.com

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