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Distracted Driving Penalties May Now Land Repeat Offenders in Jail

Beginning July 1 this year, the clock began ticking on stiffer penalties for Oregon's distracted drivers.

Cell Phone Use While Driving thumbnailLast fall, a new Oregon law clamping down on distracted driving went into effect.  Now the penalties are going up, significantly.  Beginning July 1 this year, the clock began ticking on stiffer penalties that could eventually result in jail time for repeat offenders.  

  • A first time offensewill cost the violator up to $1,000, providing it didn't contribute to a crash.  
  • A second offense that doesn't result in a crash or a first offense that does carries a fine of up to $2,500.
  • A three time offender in 10 years will face up to $2,500 in fines and the possibility of six-months in jail.

Oregon's Distracted Driving Law - Take note of a few frequently asked questions:

What is a mobile electronic device?
The law prohibits holding any mobile electronic device that is not permanently installed in a car. So this includes cell phones, tablets, or any electronic device that can do text messaging, voice communication, entertainment, navigation, accessing the Internet or producing electronic mail.

What about when I am stopped in traffic? If you’re not hands-free, it’s a violation even when you are temporarily stopped in traffic for a “traffic control device” - a traffic light, stop sign, etc.  It also applies when you are stopped in traffic congestion waiting for traffic to move.  And the law not only includes roads, but also “premises open to the public” - to include store and business parking lots.

When can I legally use my mobile electronic device?
If you are hands-free - meaning not holding the device or if you are pulled completely and safely off the roadway - not creating a traffic safety issue for other drivers - or are in a designated parking space.  There are some exceptions, like needing to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.  Also, when activating or deactivating your mobile electronic device or a function of the device, though the activating action may be subject to interpretation by a judge.  

But even using cell phones and other electronic devices hands-free can still place you and others at risk, as your mind may be on things you need to do or conversations you’re having, and not on your driving.  So, please keep your hands on the steering wheel and focus on your surroundings.

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