While the new distracted driving law has been in an effect for several months, many people are still unaware of what exactly is prohibited by the new law. Here’s a breakdown by Portland car accident attorney Paul Galm, which covers everything you need to know about the new hands-free driving law:
What’s Different From the 2009 Distracted Driving Law?
The new Oregon cell phone law from October 2017 closes some of the loopholes in the original distracted driving law. While the old law required drivers to use a hand-free device to make phone calls and banned texting while driving, it did not specifically prohibit drivers from playing games, browsing music, or actively typing into their navigation app while they were driving.
In contrast, the new distracted driving law, which went into effect October 1, 2017, prohibits drivers from using any function on the phone that requires holding or touching, with the exception of activating or deactivating a function on the phone, as long as it is limited to a single touch or swipe.
If you need to complete a task that requires you to physically hold the phone in your hand, such as typing in an address, you must safely pull your car over to the side of the road or park before engaging with your device. This includes phone use at red lights, stop signs, and stopped traffic, which is prohibited by the law.
What Happens If You Get Caught Using Your Phone?
Under these new Oregon texting and driving laws, there is a larger fine for being caught using your phone. Rather than the previous $160 fine, the new law raises the presumptive fine to $260 for first time offenders and a $435 fine for second time offenders. First time offenders whose offense contributes to a car crash must pay a $435 fine and anyone with a third violation within 10 years could be charged with a misdemeanor, which carries jail time and a fine up to $2500.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Anyone 17 or younger cannot take advantage of the hands-free device extension and must not use their phone in any capacity while driving. In the case of an emergency, drivers may use their cellphone to call 911, as long as there is no one else in the car available to do so. Emergency responders are allowed to use cell phones as long as they are responding to an emergency call.
Distracted driving is the number one cause of car accidents in the United States, and adhering to this new law could help save lives. If you or someone you love has been the victim of a distracted driver, Contact Paul Galm today.