2011 Memorial Day Weekend

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is prepared for the increase in travelers this holiday weekend when they will target motorist who fail to comply with the states seat belt law. “Oklahoma Highway Patrol enforces a ‘no tolerance’ policy when it comes to safety belts and child restraint violations, we DO NOT issue warnings. Every operator and front seat passenger along with anyone under the age of thirteen is required to be buckled up, or be in an approved safety seat belt system,” said Colonel Kerry Pettingill, Chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers will be out in full force over the “Memorial Day” weekend in an effort to keep accidents as well as injuries and fatality numbers down. “Along with safety belts, troopers will be looking for speeding violators, aggressive drivers, unsafe lane changes and those who chose to drink and drive,” said Pettingill.

“We’ve seen an increase in fatalities this year with 223 statewide traffic deaths as compared to 208 for the same time frame last year,” Pettingill said.

Along with the “National All American Buckle Up” & “Click-it-or-Tickets” campaigns, Oklahoma troopers will join forces with other states police and highway patrol organizations across the country in a campaign known as “Operation C.A.R.E.” (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) which focuses primarily on speed and safety belts violations, as well as DUI & Impaired Driving enforcement.

“Troopers will be enforcing drinking and boating on Oklahoma lakes, as well as drinking and driving on Oklahoma roads,” said Lieutenant Kurt McKean, Supervisor with the Patrol's Marine Enforcement Division. SB 324 changed the blood alcohol level from 0.10 to 0.08 on the water which makes it the same as the road. This also affects implied consent where boaters are required to provide a breath or blood test if they are arrested for BUI.

Passengers 13 and under are required to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket while under way in a vessel or personal-watercraft, and adults are encouraged to use a personal flotation device as well. “Parents should keep a close watch on their children when they are playing around the water,” said McKean.

Children 12 - 16 years of age are required by law to have a ‘Boating Safety’ class before operating a personal watercraft and / or a motorboat in excess of 10 horse-power.

Boaters are also reminded to be mindful of the lake levels, and are strongly encouraged to watch for floating debris from recent storms.