New Cell Phone Law

New Cell Phone Law

Woman in car holding cell phoneOregon’s new cell phone law means business!

Effective Oct. 1, 2017, Oregon’s basic law says it is illegal to drive while holding or using an electronic device (e.g. cell phone, tablet, GPS, laptop). Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, courts will have the ability 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 (or as we’re saying in our DriveHealthy campaign, “Hands on the wheel. Mind on the road”).

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 or a function.
  • 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.
  • To truck or bus drivers following the federal rules for Commercial Drivers License 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 $2,500 fine and up to six months 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.

When will the course be ready? A task force is meeting now to write a temporary rule that will describe the course contents. Once providers can show they meet the requirements, they will become approved and judges will have a list of those providers to offer to first-time offenders.