Oregan passed a new law that is designed to further enforce an already in place distracted driving law that bans the use of cell phones while driving.
Oregan expanded upon the cell phone ban to include all electronic mobile devices, as well as to stiffen the fines and penalties for those caught driving distracted.
The law, stemming from the House Bill 2597, is aimed to improve safety conditions for all Oregon roads.
The Oregon Department of Transportation’s Distracted Driving Task Force reported, “Drivers who talk on the phone are more than four times, and those who text are more than 23 times, more likely to have a crash.”
This stricter electronic ban goes into effect October 1, 2017.
Those who are cited for violating the electronic media ban while driving will face anywhere from $130 to $1,000 for the first offense, $220 to $2,500 for their second offense, and a Class B misdemeanor conviction with a minimum fine of $2,000 and up to six months in jail for their third offense, according to East Oregonian.
Only the first fine can be forgiven if the driver agrees to take a distracted driving avoidance course; however, the violation will remain on their record.
The only exceptions to the ban are as follows:
- Hands-free devices
- Talking on the phone, only while the phone is set on speaker and not in the driver’s hand
- Single touch or swipe: for example, only one swipe to the screen to answer the phone or end a command
- Truck and Bus drivers: the law states that they cannot be cited if they are abiding by current federal rules for commercial vehicle drivers.
- Radio Traffic
- Emergency Responders
- Ham radio operators
Lt. Timothy Tannenbaum of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office commented, “You can have a conversation while it’s on your dashboard, or on the seat next to you, as long as you’re not having to type in numbers or manipulate the phone.”
This stricter law allows law enforcement wider probable cause when pulling vehicles over.
The House Bill 2597 was inspired when a woman was pulled over in 2015 because a trooper reportedly saw the glow of a cellphone illuminate her face as she drove.
Come to find out, she was driving drunk but the trooper did not have probable cause to stop her because using a cell phone while driving was not illegal at the time.
House Bill 2597 “makes the law compliant with the intent,” Tannenbaum stated. “The intent was to get phones out of people’s hands. It’s not hard to tell who is manipulating a phone. Surfing the Internet or checking Facebook while driving is just as dangerous as talking or texting.”