Oregon’s distracted driving laws getting tougher on October 1 - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon’s distracted driving laws getting tougher on October 1

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Oregon’s distracted driving laws are about to get tougher, and driver’s who don’t put down their phones could end up in jail.

Known in the legislature as House Bill 2597, the new regulations will close a legal loophole in the existing law that forbids talking and texting but essentially permits other functions.

With the new law, drivers won’t be able to have their phones in their hands at all.

As Washington County Deputy Jim Rue explained, a driver would be able to touch or swipe if the phone is mounted, but the driver wouldn’t be able to pick it up unless they pull over and park their car in a safe area.

Children under 18 won’t be allowed to use a cell phone at all, even hands-free.

“Look at how many people’s eyes aren’t on the road,” Rue said while watching a line of drivers waiting to turn at a Beaverton intersection Wednesday. “People believe that when you’re stopped at an intersection you can get on your phone. That’s not the case.”

As a veteran deputy, he’s seen it all, and when it comes to excuses drivers make, Rue said he’s heard them all.

“’I was just checking the time,’ ‘I was checking my GPS,’” he said. “I even had someone tell me one time, ‘I’m not texting, I was reading a text.’”

In addition to the stiffer rules, the penalties for offenders will also be getting tougher come October.

A ticket for the first violation will cost $260, up from $110 under the current law. A second conviction could cost $435 and if a driver convicted three times in 10 years could be facing jail time, Rue explained. It’s a risk, he said, that’s simply not worth it.

“When your eyes are down and you’re not paying attention, anything can happen.”

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