Traffic laws are always changing: here are 3 laws to know this year

Traffic laws are always changing: here are 3 laws to know this year



The busy 2023 Oregon Legislature introduced thousands of pieces of legislation, with Governor Kotek signing 615 measures into law. Of those new laws, two took effect January 1st, 2024:

  • Senate Bill 895, clarifying the definition of “obstruction” as it relates to ORS 811.420 (Passing in a No Passing Zone),
  • House Bill 2316, expanding the definition of “intoxicant” as it relates to DUII enforcement,


No Passing Zone

ORS 811.420 allows the driver of a motor vehicle to pass in a “No Passing Zone” when there is an “obstruction or condition” that makes it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the roadway. Previously, the law did not allow a driver to pass a bicycle while in a “No Passing Zone.” SB 895 adds “a person who is riding a bicycle or operating another type of vehicle and who is traveling at a speed of less than one-half of the speed limit” to the definition of “obstruction.” Further, SB 895 limits the speed at which a driver may pass in a “No Passing Zone” to “at least five miles per hour under the speed limit.”


Drug definition

House Bill 2316 adds “any drug, as defined in ORS 475.005, that, when used either alone or in combination with intoxicating liquor, an inhalant, psilocybin, cannabis or a controlled substance, adversely affects a person’s mental or physical faculties to a noticeable or perceptible degree.” The updated language includes substances that are impairing but not regulated by the Controlled Substances Act. These substances can include prescription medication as well as Over-the-Counter medications. HB 2316 also provides affirmative defenses to prosecution, specifically related to prescription and OTC medications.


Lane-use for Motorcycles

One notable exception to the list of new laws is a motorcycle “lane-splitting”/ “lane-sharing”/ “lane-filtering” law. While this topic was much debated during the Legislative session, and version of a bill allowing lane filtering even passed the Oregon Senate, no final consensus was reached. Therefore, there is no change to Oregon’s lane-use laws. “Lane-splitting” / “lane-sharing” / “lane-filtering” is still illegal. Motorcycle and moped riders are entitled a full lane of travel. A driver depriving a motorcycle or moped rider of a full lane violates ORS 811.385 (Depriving Motorcycle or Moped of Full Lane) and could face a $265 fine. Further, motorcycle and moped riders are prohibited from overtaking or passing a vehicle that is in the same lane as the motorcycle, unless the other vehicle is also a motorcycle. Motorcycle and moped riders who ride between lanes of traffic or between adjacent rows of vehicles violate ORS 814.420 (Motorcycle or Moped Unlawful Passing) and could face a $265 fine.