Oregon and Washington Drivers Getting Fined for Distracted Driving while using Phone and Enforcement Campaigns Coming
Research shows that drivers are three times more likely to crash when talking on the phone and 23 times more likely to crash when entering information into their phone and now Oregon and Washington have instituted strict distracted driving laws to prevent this from happening so much.
The new laws for Oregon and Washington
Oregon’s law – The newly updated Distracted Driving law comes a stricter ban on cellphone use while driving and higher fines, which escalate for repeat offenders. House Bill 2597, passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor earlier this year, corrects a glaring loophole in Oregon’s hands-free law, effective October 1st, 2017. For a quick 5 minute overview, watch our video here.
The earlier version of this law, enacted in 2009, required drivers to use a hands-free device to make phone calls and banned texting while driving. But according to some interpretations from the Oregon Court of Appeals, the law left drivers free to play game apps or set directions with a navigation app while driving, as long as they weren’t calling or texting.
The new law prohibits drivers from using any function of the phone that requires holding or touching. Drivers may activate or deactivate a function on the phone, but the Oregon Department of Transportation said that should be limited to a single touch or swipe.
For a first offense (with no crash), a driver faces $130 to $1,000 fine, but the penalty may be suspended if driver provides proof of distracted driving class within four months of the ticket. However, the ticket still stays on the driver’s record. For a second offense (or first offense with a crash), the fine is $220 to $2500. A third offense within 10 years is a $2000 fine and 6 months in jail.
Washington’s law – Police in Washington State have begun enforcing the new distracted driving law following the end of a six-month grace period. The law means drivers may not use hand-held cell phones while driving, stopped in traffic or at a stop light. This includes tablets, laptops, games or other hand-held electronic devices. Drivers cannot watch movies while driving. Hands-free use is limited to a single touch or swipe.
Nearly 1,500 drivers have been ticketed each month since Washington’s new E-DUI law began in July 2017, the agency said. Washington State Patrol says nearly 7,000 warnings were issued to drivers during the grace period.
The first E-DUI ticket will cost drivers $136 and if the driver incurs a second ticket within five years, the fine increases to $234, WTSC warned. In addition, all information on cell phone infractions is now being made available to insurance companies, the agency noted.
The awareness and enforcement campaigns
Oregon’s Awareness Campaign – The ODOT Distracted Driving Media event at Portland International Raceway is coming up on April 12. Glostone will attend this event with flyers on how to get out of your first offence fine through an ODOT approved Distracted Driving Avoidance Course training.
Washington State Enforcement Campaign – Extra officers will be on patrol April 2-14 looking for distracted drivers. On the road, off the phone—that’s the message from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) over 150 law enforcement agencies will be out in force looking for distracted drivers across the Evergreen state April 2-14 this year.
Nearly 1,500 drivers have been ticketed each month since Washington’s new E-DUI law began in July 2017, the agency said. The first E-DUI ticket will cost drivers $136 and if the driver incurs a second ticket within five years, the fine increases to $234, WTSC warned. In addition, all information on cell phone infractions is now being made available to insurance companies, the agency noted.
What can I do if I get fined in Oregon?
For a first offence fine, drivers are allowed to have the fine waived if they take an Oregon DOT approved Distracted Driving Avoidance Course training. However, local Oregon traffic courts seem not to know about the list of ODOT approved Distracted Driving Avoidance Course trainings.
Glostone has been receiving calls about our ODOT approved training and we finding out that the courts knew nothing as to how to find a Distracted Driving Course and left it in the hands of the individual to find out.
Glostone’s Oregon DOT approved Distracted Driving Avoidance Course (DDAC) is 100% online on any device and also available in-person at our Clackamas and North Portland locations. Learn more about Glostone’s Oregon Distracted Driving Avoidance Course.
Q&A of Oregon’s law
Q: Can I use a navigation app or play music while driving?
A: Yes you can when only one touch of the device is required. For example, to activate a preprogrammed route, or to end navigation prompts once you’ve found your way. You cannot hold the phone, so you should be able to activate that function with one hand. If you need to type in an address or intersection, you’ll have to pull over or park.
Q: Does the car have to be turned off to use my phone?
A: The car doesn’t need to be turned off, but it must be parked safely. That means stopped by the side of the road or in a parking spot. This does not include being stopped at a red light, a stop sign or in traffic.
Q: What about calling 911 in an emergency?
A: Drivers may use their cellphone to call 911 or otherwise summon emergency help, but only if no one else in the car was capable of doing it. Likewise, emergency responders can use their cellphones when responding to an emergency call, including in personal vehicles.
Q: What about other devices?
A: The law applies to mobile electronic devices of all stripes, including cellphones, tablets, laptops and GPS units. Permanently mounted or bolted-on electronic devices are exempted.
Q: What if I’m under 18?
A: While drivers are who are 18 and over may use a hands-free device with their mobile electronics, this exemption is not extended to drivers who are 17 or younger.