Oregon’s new distracted driving law goes into effect on October 1, 2017, which will make it easier for police to cite drivers who are using cellphones (and other electronic devices) behind the wheel. Drivers will be prohibited from using any phone functions that require holding the device or touching it for more than a single swipe or press of a button.
Here are some quick points to keep in mind:
- If you are under the age of 18, you may not use mobile devices of any kind behind the wheel – even hands-free.
- Navigation and entertainment (like listening to music or a podcast) are included in the new law. You can touch your phone to activate navigation, but you can’t type in an address unless you are parked. Similarly, you can start a podcast that is already on your screen, but you can’t search for a particular podcast while you are driving.
- Stopping a red light, a stop sign, or being stuck in traffic are not the same as being parked. In order to hold your phone or use it for more than a simple swipe, you will need to be parked – either safely on the side of a road or in a parking spot.
- The new law isn’t just about cellphones – tablets, GPS/navigation systems, and other devices are also included.
- Calls to 911 are an exception, but only if no one else in the car can make the call. Emergency responders are also allowed to use cellphones while responding to call.
- A first offense can result in a fine of $260. First-time offenders may be able to complete a Distracted Driving Avoidance class in lieu of the fine, though the violation will stay on their record. A second offense, or a first offense that contributes to a crash, would result in a fine of $435. A third offense within ten years could be a misdemeanor and result in six months of jail time and a fine of $2,500.