By David Krogh

Oregon’s distracted driving fines are the highest in the US. Rosenblum Law, a New Jersey law firm, conducted a survey and determined that first time offenders in Oregon could be fined as much as $1,000 for a first offense, $2,000 for a second offense and $2,500 plus jail time for a third offense. 

The current fines were established by the Oregon State Legislature in 2017 as a means to better address the threats to safety caused by drivers who use cell phones, text or otherwise drive distracted.  

According to Rosenblum Law, the National Safety Council has indicated that 1.6 million vehicle accidents a year involve distracted driving. If other states would implement restrictive fines like Oregon’s, they speculated that this accident rate could plummet, saving both lives and property.  Currently all states have at least some type of minimal distracted driver laws on the books except Montana, which has none.  

Oregon State Department of Transportation (ODOT) says “Distraction occurs when a driver diverts attention to something not related to driving that uses the driver’s eyes, ears or hands.” There are four types of driver distraction:  

• Visual: looking at something other than the road  

• Auditory: hearing something not related to driving  

• Manual: handling something other than the steering wheel  

• Cognitive: thinking about something other than driving 

Oregon’s traffic law was updated in 2017 to specifically state it is illegal to drive while holding or using an electronic device (such as a cellphone, tablet, GPS or laptop). CB radios and hands-free devices are exempt. 

In essence, distracted driving includes anything that diverts the driver from paying attention to driving. The law permits judges to reduce fines if the driver undergoes safety training.