Sep 08 2017

New Distracted Driving Laws in Oregon and Washington

by Megan Beyer in Uncategorized

In an effort to crack down on the use of mobile devices while driving, both Oregon and Washington Legislatures passed bills to strengthen current laws.  Both states had already outlawed texting and talking on cell phones while driving to varying degrees. Washington’s law is already in effect while Oregon’s will be effective on October 1, 2017.

Oregon’s new law was introduced largely to close a major loophole.  A recent court case ruled the police had to see you actively talking into your phone or your fingers actively typing a text to issue a ticket. Current law also didn’t apply to other activities such as searching the web or using social media while driving. The new Oregon law will ban the use of any handheld mobile electronic device while driving a motor vehicle with an exception for the use of integrated hands free devices.  Additionally, there will be increased penalties. A first offense will move from a Class C traffic violation to a Class B traffic violation.  For any subsequent offense within 10 years or if the first offense contributes to an accident, the penalty is increased to a Class A traffic violation. A third offense within ten years is increased to a Class B misdemeanor with a mandatory $2,000 fine. Finally, a number of the previous exemptions for work use have also been eliminated.

In Washington, the recently passed Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act (DUIE) is already in effect. Similarly to Oregon’s law, it bans the use of any handheld electronic device while driving, even at stop signs. It is now a primary offense, which means officers can now pull you over if they see you using your phone while driving. Penalties have also increased, the first offense is $136, and a second in 5 years rises to $235 with all violations being reportable to insurance companies. In a surprising turn, the Washington Legislature also gave officers the additional ability to ticket for other distracted driving activities, such as eating, as a secondary offense.

An in depth look at both new laws can be found here or on the “Resource Links” page of this website. Be safe when you’re driving and remember to put your phone down!