On Sunday, Oregon's Districted Driving Law Goes into Effect. Be informed! Oregon Department of Transportation has provided an excellent summary, highlighting updates to Enrolled House Bill 2597, which says it is illegal to drive while holding or using an electronic device (e.g. cell phone, tablet, GPS, laptop). Beginning January 1, 2018, courts will have the ability to waive the fine for first-time offenders who attend an approved Distracted Driving Avoidance course. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, it’s best just to turn off your device when you are driving.
Here are a few cases where the new law does not apply:
- When using hands-free or built-in devices, if you are 18 years of age or older.
- Use of a single touch or swipe to activate or deactivate the device.
- When parked safely, i.e., stopped in a designated parking spot. - However, it is NOT legal to use the device when stopped at a stop light, stop sign, in traffic, etc.
- While providing or summoning medical help and no one else is available to make the call.
- Police, fire, EMS providers in the scope of employment, (can include when in a personal vehicle if, for example, when responding to an emergency call).
- To truck or bus drivers following the federal rules for CDL holders.
- When using a two-way radio if you are a CB user, school bus driver, utility truck driver in scope of employment.
- If you are a HAM radio operator age 18 years or older.
Violations updated, too
A first offense that doesn’t contribute to a crash is a Class B violation with a maximum fine of $1,000. A second offense, or if the first offense contributes to a crash, is Class A violation with a maximum fine of $2,500. A third offense in ten years is a Class B misdemeanor and could result in a $6,250 fine and up to one year in jail.
For a first offense that does not contribute to a crash, the court may suspend the fine* if the driver completes an approved distracted driving avoidance class, and shows proof to the court, within four months. *Only the fine is suspended – the violation will still be recorded on the offender’s driving record.
“Distracted Driving” is a dangerous behavior for drivers, passengers, and non-occupants alike. Distraction is a specific type of inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention from the driving task to focus on some other activity instead (per NHTSA).
- From 2011-2015 there were 9,951 crashes resulting in 54 fatalities and 15,150 injuries caused by crashes involving a distracted driver in Oregon.
- From 2011-2015 there were 917 crashes, resulting in 14 fatalities and 1,330 injuries caused by drivers reported to have been using a cell phone at the time of the crash.
- From 2011-2015 there were 110 crashes, resulting in 0 fatalities and 166 injuries caused by drivers ages 16 to 18 who was reported to have been using a cell phone at the time of the crash.
- These crashes are underreported; convictions for this office during the same time frame totaled 94,099.