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Children in liquor stores, ballot selfies and more: New laws take effect Friday

Cars drive through the toll gate on the Kilpatrick Turnpike Tuesday, August 23, 2016. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman, file]
Cars drive through the toll gate on the Kilpatrick Turnpike Tuesday, August 23, 2016. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman, file]

Starting Friday, Oklahomans will be able to take their children into liquor stores, take ballot selfies on Election Day and pick up life-saving prescriptions when they can’t get in touch with a doctor.

Oklahoma has 325 new laws slated to take effect. Here are the highlights.

Speed limits

A new state law could allow Oklahomans to drive faster on some turnpikes and rural highways, but drivers won’t be able to put their pedals to the metal just yet.

The law is contingent on a study by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to determine where higher speed limits could be safe. A Transportation Department spokesman said completion of the study is still months away and raising speed limits won’t occur until after that’s complete. Drivers also shouldn’t expect an across-the-board change, said Brenda Perry of the Transportation Department.

The state’s Transportation Commission will have to approve raising the speed limit from 70 to 75 miles per hour on any rural highways. The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority will have to do the same to raise maximum speeds from 75 to 80 mph.

State Question 780 retroactivity

Voters passed the state question in 2016 to reclassify some drug possession and property crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies.

The retroactivity component establishes an expedited commutation process for people who are serving felony prison sentences for offenses that are now misdemeanors. It also provides a simplified path to expungement for people with old drug possession and low-level property convictions.


Department of Corrections personnel and the department's contractors will be able to give opioid-overdose antidotes like naloxone without a prescription to people who experienced or witnessed an opioid overdose for use at a later date.

State law already allows this practice for other first responders.


Retailers will be able to sell frames and lenses in addition to leasing space to licensed optometrists under a new law that is slightly different from State Question 793, which voters disapproved last year at the ballot box.

Optometrists will be able to rent space and practice optometry in retail establishments provided there is a separation between the doctor’s office and the rest of the retail establishment.

Emergency medication

A new Oklahoma law will allow pharmacists to dispense emergency prescription refills to patients who desperately need life-saving medications, but don’t have a current prescription on file.

The law seeks to help patients who are in desperate need of prescription medications when they can’t get in touch with their doctor for a refill. Pharmacists will be able to dispense a “reasonable” amount of medication if the patient has a record of the prescription on file and the pharmacist determines the medication is essential to treating a person’s chronic condition.

Examples of such medications include insulin and rescue inhalers.


Parents will have to provide written authorization before their children can receive any vaccinations at school whether it is through a mobile vaccination effort or otherwise.

Liquor stores

Minors will be able to enter liquor stores if they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Supporters of the measure said allowing accompanied minors into liquor stores will be safer than leaving a child in a car on a hot day.

Substitute teachers

Substitute teachers will be able to work more school days each year under a new law. Instead of being able to work just 90 days per school year, substitutes will be able to work up to 135-145 school days depending on a teacher’s education and certification credentials.

School buses

Oklahoma school districts will be able to install video cameras on school buses in order to catch drivers who do not halt when buses stop to offload children.

School districts would turn video footage of lawbreakers over to local law enforcement to identify the offenders.

Dyslexia training

School districts will be able to offer annual dyslexia awareness training to help teachers recognize the signs of dyslexia and assist them in educating dyslexic students.

State employees

A new law mandates that all state agencies and political subdivisions of the state adopt a social media policy for employees that discourages bullying, abusive behavior, sharing obscene sexual content, encouraging illegal activity or disclosing information state employees are required by law to keep confidential.

Credit card scanners

It will be a felony crime for anyone to possess or use a scanning or skimming device to read or store credit card information without the permission of the owner.

Bike safety

When drivers pass bicyclists on a road with two or more lanes in the same direction, drivers will be required to move into the left lane to pass.

If there’s only one lane in the same direction, drivers can only pass a bicyclist if there is 3 or more feet between the car and the bicyclist. Bicyclists also will be able to proceed through red traffic lights if no vehicles are approaching and they came to a complete stop first.

Vehicle safety

Drivers will be required to change lanes, if possible, and slow down when passing any stationary vehicle that is displaying its emergency, flashing lights.

Education funding deadline

A new law will repeal rarely adhered to statutory language that stipulates Oklahoma’s Legislature provide the governor a plan to fully fund common education by April 1 every year.

Legislators typically don’t finish crafting the state budget until May. Legislators from both parties have referred to the April 1 deadline as arbitrary.

Ballot selfies

Oklahoma voters will be able to snap and share cellphone photos of their marked ballots.

Absentee voters can take photos of their ballots at home and in-person voters can snap pictures in the voting booth for posting on social media after they leave the polling place.

Missing persons

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations will be able to access computerized fingerprint images collected by the Department of Public Safety for drivers licenses to identify missing, endangered or deceased persons.

A law named after Francine Frost, a deceased Tulsa woman who was abducted in 1981 and her case unsolved for more than 30 years, requires law enforcement agencies statewide to enter information on all missing persons and unidentified remains into the publicly available National Missing and Unidentified Persons System within 30 days.

State designations

As of Friday, the ribeye steak will be the state steak of Oklahoma. Oklahoma also will adopt the Rosette Nebula, which is in the Monoceros constellation, as the state’s official astronomical object.

Carmen Forman

Carmen Forman covers the state Capitol and governor's office for The Oklahoman. A Norman native and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, she previously covered state politics in Virginia and Arizona before returning to Oklahoma. Read more ›