Sen. Don Barrington and Rep. Tommy Hardin were pleased when Governor Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 742 into law earlier this week allowing for the regulated use of utility vehicles (UTVs) in certain instances on public roadways.
“When the law was passed in 2004 regulating the use of golf carts on public lands, utility vehicles and all-terrain vehicles were mistakenly categorized together,” said Barrington, R-Lawton. “These two types of vehicles serve different purposes. ATV’s are used for recreation, while utility vehicles like golf carts are used for work and basic transportation. Updating this law will allow local officials to regulate these commonly-used vehicles.”
SB 742 puts UTVs in the same category as golf carts allowing for their regulated use under certain circumstances. Currently, the use of golf carts on public streets and highways is allowed within state parks as well as municipalities that have approved ordinances for their use. They also can be driven on these same roadways in counties where the board of county commissioners has approved for their use. They, however, can only be used on roads with a posted speed limit of 25 mph or less, the road is located in an unincorporated area, and there is appropriate signage cautioning motorists of the possibility of golf cart traffic.
SB 742 was a request bill from the Texoma area. The need for the new law came to the attention of Marshall County officials with the growing popularity of utility vehicles around the Lake Texoma area. Rep. Hardin, R-Madill, thanked them for bringing the UTV issue to the attention of the legislature.
“Because utility vehicles look and serve such a similar purpose as golf carts, citizens at Lake Texoma were driving the UTVs around the park not realizing they were breaking the law and the county sheriff’s office was forced to give them tickets,” said Hardin. “UTV owners will now be able to use and enjoy their vehicles without worrying about legal repercussions; and I want to thank Senator Barrington for helping me get this through the legislative process as well as everyone else who played a role in getting this law changed.”
Barrington and Hardin along with coauthors Senators Josh Brecheen and Frank Simpson worked in collaboration with Congressman Tom Cole’s office, the Corp of Engineers, Marshall County Commissioner’s office, the Marshall County Sheriff department, the Oklahoma Highway Lake Patrol and private citizens in drafting the legislation.
Sen. Brecheen, who represents Marshall County and the Lake Texoma area, praised Marshall County officials for their leadership and hard work in getting SB 742 to the Governor’s office.
“I want to commend Marshall County Commissioner Chris Duroy for his leadership in bringing this issue to the attention of the Legislature,” said Brecheen, R-Coalgate. “It’s because of Representative Hardin and Commissioner Duroy’s efforts that we’ve been able to fix this problem. They have fought passionately for this issue, and I applaud their dedication to helping right a wrong for our constituents and the citizens of Oklahoma.”
A utility vehicle is defined as a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine, manufactured and used exclusively for off-highway use, equipped with seating for two or more people and a steering wheel and which travels on four or more wheels.
“This bill will be a tremendous benefit to homeowners in the Lake Texoma area. This will allow for the safe and legal operation of privately owned utility vehicles,” said Simpson, R-Ardmore.
SB 742 became effective upon the Governor’s approval.