Oregon Joins List of States to Ban Cell Phones While Driving

Oregon has joined 14 other states and the District of Columbia in banning cell phone use while driving.

Beginning October 1, drivers in Oregon can no longer use any electronic device while driving. Those caught using a device will be charged a fine ranging from $260 to $1,000 for their first offense. Fines for a second offense will cost between $435 and $2,000, and those on their third offense could receive a sentence of up to one year in jail.

House Bill 2597 is a more comprehensive law than a 2009 bill, as it covers all electronic device use—including simply holding the phone while driving. Previous legislation left certain actions up for interpretation, such as playing Angry Birds from a navigation device while driving or looking for music on an app.

Motorists can still use their phone if they are parked legally by the side of the road but not while stopped at a red light or in traffic. Other exceptions include:

  • A driver can call 9-1-1 if there is no one else in the car who can make the call.
  • Motorists can use a single touch or swipe to activate or deactivate a hands-free device.
  • Commercial truck drivers, emergency responders and school bus drivers can use two-way handheld radios in the scope of their employment.

The new law includes all electronic devices, including cell phones, tablets, GPS devices, laptops and e-readers.

Other states that ban use of hand-held mobile devices include Washington, California, Nevada, Illinois, West Virginia, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Hawaii and the District of Columbia. Text messaging is banned in 47 states plus the District of Columbia.

About Natalie Rutledge

Natalie Rutledge majored in Communications at Mississippi State University. She was in sales for a number of businesses and spent nine years working as a communications advisor. Natalie can be contacted at [email protected]