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May 14, 2013

State Department of Public Safety bill signed into law

NORMAN — A measure to keep the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety in federal compliance, protect Oklahoma’s federal funding and help the agency fund numerous projects was signed into law Monday.  Sen. Don Barrington, author of Senate Bill 652, said the bill will help improve services provided by the agency.

“This is an important bill that addresses several issues within the state Department of Public Safety including keeping the agency in federal compliance and providing it with much-needed funding,” said Barrington, R-Lawton. 

In order to comply with new federal CDL regulations set to take effect July 1, 2014, SB 652 establishes a commercial learner permit for those applying for a commercial driver license. The permit will be valid for 180 days and may be renewed once for an additional 180 days.  Barrington noted that failure to comply with the new federal rule would put Oklahoma out of compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which would put Oklahoma’s CDL program in jeopardy and also up to 10 percent of federal highway funds that are awarded to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. 

The measure also increases the fees for driver licenses by $10.  Barrington pointed out that this is the first fee increase the agency has had in ten years and will help cover the ever-increasing costs of providing services to the public. 

“Instead of asking for an increased appropriation, the agency requested this $10 fee increase, which will help generate approximately $8.7 million to help hire additional driver license clerks; pay for new hardware and software required to maintain the Driver License division as well as assist the agency in fixing and updating the state’s 800MHz radio system, which is used by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, emergency personnel and law enforcement officers throughout the state,” said Barrington. 

SB 652 allows the Department to accept skills test results from another state.  The bill also requires the Department to conduct an annual criminal history background check on designated examiners and allows the agency to revoke the driving privileges of anyone convicted of fraud related to examination or issuance of a commercial learner permit and for failure to submit to skills reexamination. 

SB 652 will become law on Nov. 1. 

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