2017 Legislature updates Oregon’s distracted driving law
Also referred to as the cell phone law, goes into effect Oct. 1, 2017
Oregon’s basic law Enrolled House Bill 2597 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 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 Drive Healthy 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.
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 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 maximum fine of $2,500 fine and could be 6 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.