PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Fines for distracted driving are about to go up as serious crashes continue to happen regularly in Oregon.
The new penalties for violating the law after July 1 are:
- First offense — Class B violation with a fine up to $1,000
- Second offense – Class A violation with a fine up to $2,500
- Third offense – Class B misdemeanor with a fine up to $2,000 and potential 6 months in jail
The Oregon Department of Transportation said distracted driving caused 10,814 crashes between 2012 and 2016. In those crashes, 70 people died and 16,503 were hurt.
Unofficial numbers from ODOT show 172 crash deaths this year — a 17.8% increase from the same time last year. Many of those crashes involved the driver leaving their lane, which is often caused by the driver being distracted, ODOT said.
“Distracted driving is an epidemic in Oregon, and the consequences can be deadly,” Transportation Safety Division administrator Troy E. Costales said in a press release. “Everyone using the transportation system – drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians alike – should put away the distractions when traveling to help eliminate these tragedies.”
It’s been less than a year since Oregon’s new distracted driving law went into effect, banning any use of handheld devices while driving.
Previously, the penalty for the first citation was $260, a second ticket could run you $435 and a third could mean jail time and a $2,000 fine.
Violations include using any handheld device that takes your hands off the wheel. Built-in or hands-free devices are allowed but even mounted smart phones or GPS devices can only be used for single touch or swipe to activate or deactivate.
ODOT reiterated that being stopped at a red light or in traffic is not an acceptable time to use your device, you must be safely parked.