Beaverton Police Department: New Distracted Driving Law

By Police Staff17-beaverton-police-logo-final-jpeg

October 1st brought with it rain and cooler weather. It also brought a newly revised distracted driving law. We at the Beaverton Police Department urge people to put down their distracting electronic devices and focus on driving.

The revised distracted driving law can be found in Oregon Revised Statutes 811.507 and is titled Driving A Motor Vehicle While Using A Mobile Electronic Device. The law was revised to tighten restrictions on what a person can do with an electronic device while driving.

It’s important to understand a mobile electronic device is defined as any electronic device that is NOT permanently installed in a motor vehicle. Some examples of mobile electronic devices are devices capable of text messaging, voice communication, entertainment, navigation, accessing the Internet or producing electronic mail.

You may think it’s easy to understand what driving means but it can get complicated. In this law, driving means operating a motor vehicle on a highway or premises open to the public, and while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device or other momentary delays. This law also states you are not considered driving if your motor vehicle is stopped in a location where it can safely remain stationary and you are pulled over on the side of, or are pulled off, a roadway.

The law states holding a mobile electronic device in the person’s hand or using a mobile electronic device for any purpose is a violation of the law. The law allows a person to activate or deactivate a mobile electronic device but no use beyond activating and deactivating.

The distracted driving law has a variety of defenses. Some of the defenses are: summoning medical or emergency help when there is no one else in the vehicle who is capable of summoning help, using a mobile electronic device by way of a hands-free accessory and emergency services providers acting in the scope of their professions.

One thing that remained the same is that no one under 18 years of age can drive while using a mobile electronic device in any way except to summon medical or emergency help.

The Oregon legislature changed the penalties for violating this law. For a person’s first conviction is considered a class B violation which has a base fine of 260.00 as long as the violation didn’t contribute to a traffic crash. If a person’s first violation contributed to a traffic crash this would be considered a Class A violation which has a base fine of 435.00. A person’s second conviction within a 10-year period is considered a class A violation. A person’s third conviction within a 10-year period would be considered a Class B misdemeanor crime with a minimum fine of $2000.

This article was not intended to fully explain the entire distracted driving statute but was more of a snapshot of the highlights. We encourage you to become more familiar with this revised law. Distracted driving does lead to serious traffic crashes and traffic fatalities in our city. Beaverton Police Department encourages everyone to increase traffic safety by decreasing your use of distracting devices.