You text, you drive, you pay. Texting while driving in Oklahoma is officially banned. The new law went into effect Sunday.
News 9 rode along with an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper on this first day of enforcement.
“Most of the time, they don't see us, because they're so engrossed in their phone,” said Trooper Brian Odom.
Odom sees a lot of traffic violations during his shift including driver’s texting while behind the wheel.
“Maybe two or three times a shift or maybe not at all, it really varies,” he said.
Beginning Sunday, he can finally do something about it.
“Any time you see someone manipulating their phone, you can pull them over,” Odom said while on patrol.
The law makes texting while driving a primary offense, something Odom takes personally after an accident in July devastated two of his fellow troopers.
“You see it first hand,” he said. “You see a young woman that's been widowed.”
Brandi Dees and her two little girls lost a husband and father that day. Trooper Nicholas Dees died when a driver on his phone hit him. Trooper Keith Burch was also struck and severely injured.
“It's heartbreaking, it takes someone's death, my children's father, you know, to get that law passed,” Brandi Dees said.
And now enforced, which has some challenges, because law enforcement officers still have to catch the driver red handed.
“If they're just glancing down, maybe they spilled something but if they've got their head focused on their lap for 20 seconds, then you're going to want to investigate that further,” Odom said. “They’ll be some growing pains at first, but I think we'll be able to wade through that and do some good with it.”
In the hour News 9 was with Odom, they didn't catch anyone violating the new law.
If you are caught texting and driving, you face a $100 fine. Drivers with permits or graduated licenses risk suspension or loss of their license if they are caught texting and driving.