New Distracted Driver Law

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation a Distracted Driver Crash occurs every 2.5 hours in Oregon. On Sunday October 1 a new Oregon law, will go into effect specifically targeting distracted driving while using an electronic device. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration 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.

There were 110 crashes, resulting in 166 injuries caused by drivers aged 16 to 18 who were reported to have been using a cell phone at the time of the crash. Oregon House Bill 2597 makes it illegal to drive while holding or using an electronic device such as a cell phone, tablet, GPS or laptop. There are some exceptions to this law that you may need to prove to the court if ticketed. It is not legal to use the device when stopped at a stop light, stop sign, or in traffic.

Violations and fines associated with the new law have been updated accordingly: a first offense that doesn’t contribute to a crash is a Class B Violation with a maximum fine of $1000. A second offense (or if the first offense contributes to a crash) is a Class A violation with a maximum fine of $2,500. A third offense within 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. However only the fine is suspended — the violation will still be recorded on the offender’s driving record. For more information about this law and distracted driving, go to ODOT’s website at oregon dot gov slash ODOT.