The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

State News

June 30, 2009

Oklahoma: New law raises fee on late tag renewals

The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahomans who are tardy on renewing their vehicle license tags face higher fees starting Wednesday.

Other new laws taking effect Wednesday increase penalties for a variety of crimes and ban the tattooing of eyeballs.

Motorists late on renewing their license plate tags used to pay a penalty of 25 cents a day after a 30-day grace period. That is increasing to $1 a day — up to $100.

The legislation was enacted during the final days of the 2009 Legislature to raise $14.4 million for rural infrastructure projects.

It was agreed to by leaders after rural legislators protested a budget plan that discontinued $15.5 million in funding for the Rural Economic Action Plan.

Under the original budget plan, the money was set aside for transportation, mainly for rural bridge repair.

Another new law makes first-offense domestic abuse a felony if prosecutors can show a pattern of physical violence.

The legislation also increases penalties for possession and distribution of child pornography and prohibits sex offenders from being ice cream truck vendors.

Another anti-crime law increases the maximum sentence for kidnapping from 10 years to 20 years.

That law also expands the definition of rape by instrumentation by deleting “consensual” as an element of the crime if a school employee or other public employee is accused in a case involving a person under 20 years old.

Under another new statute, a person driving with a suspended license can be charged with a felony and sentenced to up to five years in prison if involved in an accident causing serious injury or death.

Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, said the new laws should not appreciably increase the number of people going to prison.

In the past, Board of Corrections members have criticized lawmakers for passing or expanding felony laws without increasing funding to operate overcrowded prisons.

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