REDMOND, OR -- Oregon’s stricter distracted driving law takes effect Sunday. Redmond Police Lt. Curtis Chambers says it closes a big loophole. "The current law prohibits ‘use.’ The Court of Appeals clarified ‘use’ means actively typing out a message or communicating via voice." That meant drivers could still read messages or even scroll through their Facebook feed while behind the wheel.
The new law, he says, adds to the current list of illegal behavior, "Holding your phone and looking at your phone while reading a message. Even just holding the phone, even though you may not actively be reading something, is illegal as of October first." And, he says, don’t think you can catch up on your social media feed while stuck in traffic. "The law specifically prohibits even using your phone or holding your phone while momentarily stopped at a light, at a stop sign or in traffic."
However, the law does allow you to use most mobile devices, as long as you can keep both hands on the wheel. And, there is new technology to help you avoid breaking the law. "There’s plenty of apps out there, either Android or Apple Store products that can inhibit your phone from receiving a text message or Facebook notification or email when you’re going down the road and it senses you’re going down the road." And, Lt. Chambers says talking on the phone or using navigation is still allowed, as long as the driver keeps both hands on the wheel.
Fines increase, Sunday, as well. The cost of the first offense goes from $160 to $260; The second time you’re caught, it’s a $435 ticket.