If you’re a teenager in Oklahoma, we’re certain you are looking forward to the freedom and opportunities available to you when you have a driver license. Before you get behind the wheel, there’s information you need to know. Much of this was probably covered in your driver ed classes, but a refresher never hurts.
Let’s start at the beginning …
Your first driver license will be part of our state’s graduated driver license program. Oklahoma has adopted a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program as a means of giving teens increasing driving privileges and responsibilities as young drivers gain more experience. The goal is to reduce the number of teenage car crashes. A quarter of 16-year-old drivers either get into a car crash or receive a ticket of some kind in their first year of driving.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says GDL programs across the country have reduced teen crashes 10 to 30 percent on average by making sure teens gradually build up driving experience under lower-risk conditions as they mature and develop skills.
The Oklahoma GDL program begins with your learner permit, which you can obtain at the age of 15 ½ if you pass a written exam, a vision test, and have passed a driver education course. Without recognized driver education, you must be 16. A learner permit allows you to drive while accompanied by a licensed driver who is 21 or older.
At 16, if you have had a permit for at least six months and have had enough driving practice, you can apply for an intermediate license. You must attest on an affidavit to the fact that you have had at least 50 hours of driving practice, including 10 hours of night driving, accompanied by a driver who is 21 or older and who has been licensed for at least two years. You’ll also have to pass a driving test.
An intermediate license allows you to drive from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and for activities related to school, church or work, and any time that you are accompanied by a licensed driver who is 21 or older.
At 18, you are eligible for an unrestricted license if you have had an intermediate license for at least six months (or a year if you did not take driver ed) and have no traffic tickets on your record. You will have to pass a written test, vision exam, and a driving test. As the name indicates, you have no restrictions – other than general traffic law – once you have an unrestricted license.
In addition to holding a driver license, the vehicle that you drive must be insured. The car you are driving must also have a current license tag, registration, and title.
At the minimum, you must have 25/50/25 liability insurance coverage. This is $25,000 maximum coverage for bodily injury liability for one person injured in an accident, $50,000 maximum coverage for all bodily injury liability in a single accident, and $25,000 maximum coverage for property damage liability for one accident.
Liability coverage is for an accident in which you are at fault. Bodily injury coverage pays for injuries suffered by other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists in an accident you cause. Property damage liability coverage pays for damage to someone else’s vehicle, fence, mailbox, house, or bicycle if you hit it.
If you get into an a collision in which there is any injury or property damage worth $300 or more and do not have the required liability insurance, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety will suspend your driver license and/or the license of the uninsured vehicle’s owner.
Additional insurance is not required. But liability coverage does not pay if you damage your own car or injure yourself in an accident. Collision insurance pays if you damage your car in an accident. If you have a new car that you are still paying for, the bank or another title holder financing your car loan will usually require you to have collision insurance until you pay off the loan.
Another type of coverage, uninsured motorist coverage (UM) pays you, members of your family who live with the policyholder, and occupants of your auto for personal injuries caused by an uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist or hit-and-run driver.
It would not be possible to list all of Oklahoma’s traffic laws here. You probably have a general knowledge of many of them, such as those about obeying the speed limit, not crossing the solid yellow line of a no-passing zone, and yielding to traffic before making a left turn. Of course, being a teenager, you know it is illegal for you to drink alcohol, let alone drive a vehicle after drinking.
There a few traffic laws that you might overlook but should be aware of:
If you are under the age of 18, any Oklahoma court is required to notify the Department of Public Safety of any drug or alcohol offense that you commit, including any crime, violation, infraction, traffic offense or other offense relating to:
When the court makes this notification, the Department of Public Safety is required to cancel or deny you a driver license for a period of time as recommended by the court or required by law. At the discretion of the court, your license could be suspended for a period of: