As I have noted in a number of previous posts, the new Oregon distracted driving law which came into effect this year allows for “primary enforcement”. That means Oregon police officers can pull drivers over for talking on a handheld cellphone. In some other states, where primary enforcement is not the rule, police must first have noted another offense (speeding, for example, or reckless driving) and may then ticket cellphone use or texting as a secondary, or additional, charge after making the initial traffic stop.
While there is relatively little Oregon distracted driving data available so far (the law has not yet been in force for six months), anecdotal evidence suggests that few of the state’s police departments have made a strong primary enforcement push regarding the distracted driving law.
That, however, may be beginning to change. As the Siuslaw News reports, Florence officials have come to believe that the cellphone ban is not being taken sufficiently seriously. City police issued more than 55 warnings for violations of the Oregon distracted driving law last month alone. The paper quotes the police chief: “That’s way too many for a town our size,” and indicates that officers intend to begin cracking down.
Police officials quoted by the newspaper also warn against viewing the Oregon distracted driving law’s exemption for people using handheld cellphones “if operation is necessary to their job” as an easy way around the ban. As the local police chief notes, the actual wording of the law gives officers great discretion in deciding what constitutes a “necessary use” of a cellphone when behind the wheel.
Oregon distracted driving is a serious issue that can have civil as well criminal consequences. If you have been the victim of an accident involving a Portland, Florence, Salem or Medford distracted driver it is essential that you speak with an experienced Oregon distracted driving attorney as soon as possible after the incident. A Portland distracted driving lawyer can help you win the compensation you deserve, and ensure that reckless and distracted drivers pay for their negligence.
The Siuslaw News: Florence police say: Hang up and drive