Don't Drive While Holding Your Phone! New Stiff Penalties Are Soon To Be In Effect.

We all know that using your phone while driving is a dangerous activity.  However, despite the data, the education, and the advancements in technology, people still continue to use their mobile phones while driving. This increases the dangers of getting in a crash, and you can get ticketed and fined.  Using a cellular phone or other hand held device while driving may also make you vulnerable to a claim for punitive damages if you injure someone as a result of distracted driving.  

You or your insurance company may have to pay tens of thousands of dollars more for injuring someone because you chose to break the law and drive with your cell phone.   Despite these deterrents it wasn't enough.  Oregon Law Makers decided to get tough on drivers using their smartphones and enacted new laws increasing the penalties.  Below is what you need to know:

When do stiffer penalties and the new law come into effect?  October 1, 2017. 

What did the old law prohibit?  The old law prohibited talking on your phone without a hands free device or texting while driving. However, their was a gaping loophole that allowed people to use their phones to access the internet, driving directions, checking and responding to emails or entertainment.  

What can I legally do on my phone while driving?   You can talk on your phone with a hands free device.  However you cannot touch or hold your phone while driving.   The new law prohibits drivers from using any feature or app on their phone that require holding or touching the phone.

Can I use GPS or a Tablet and Drive?  No, the law applies to all electronic devices including GPS, tablets, laptops, smartphones, and cellular phones. 

Do I have to turn my car off to hold my phone and use its features?  No, you just need to have the vehicle lawfully parked and off the road. Stopping in a traffic jam, at a stop sign, or a traffic light does not count as being parked. 

How Do I Use Navigation Features While Driving?   You can still rely on your phone or other devices for navigation.  However, you need to input the data (address, location, etc) prior to driving.  Also, you tap the screen once, you simply cannot hold the phone.  The apps you rely on must be able to be operated hands-free.  This means that you can't be holding the phone. The same goes for other devices.  

How much is the fine for unlawfully using a device while driving?  The first presumptive fine is $260.00.  If you cause a crash while breaking the no driving and using your electronic device law you will face a presumptive fine of $435.00.  If you are stubborn enough to continue to use your electronic device/phone while driving and are convicted three times in ten years you will be facing a misdemeanor charge.  You would then be facing 6 months in jail and a $2500.00 fine. 

Can I still get sued if I get a ticket for using my phone while driving and I caused a crash?  Yes, you will likely have to deal with a personal injury attorney like myself that represents the injured driver if you injure someone while driving and using your phone.  

Where can I locate the new law?  Look at ORS 811.507 (2017) and any appellate decisions addressing that law for guidance.   

If you have additional questions regarding using your hand-held device and driving please call Portland Oregon personal injury lawyer Jeremiah Ross. Ross Law LLC is dedicated to helping change Oregonian's behavior by holding negligent driver's accountable.  If you or someone you know has been injured by a person that may have been using their phone call Ross Law at 503.224.1658 for your free personal injury consultation.  Please do not rely solely on this post.  This post is not intended to be legal advice and you should look at the text of the law (ORS 811.507) (2017) and any appellate decisions interpreting the law.