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Fines And Penalties Increase For Oregon's Distracted Drivers Starting July 1st

Lord Jim
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Flickr.com

Penalties for distracted driving will get costlier in Oregon, starting next month. KLCC’s Brian Bull explains.

Flickr_LordJim.jpg
Credit Lord Jim / Flickr.com
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Flickr.com

State law prohibits the use of portable electronic devices while operating a vehicle, which includes smart phones, tablets, music players, and even laptop computers.

Starting next month, a first-time offender faces a fine up to $1,000, and $2500 for a second offense or first-time offense leading to a crash.

A 2011 crash near Hermiston claimed the driver's life. Officials say they believe the man was trying to place a call when he went over the center line and into a head-on crash.
Credit Oregon State Police
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A 2011 crash near Hermiston claimed the driver's life. Officials say they believe the man was trying to place a call when he went over the center line and into a head-on crash.

Kelly Capri of the Oregon Department of Transportation says this is all to reinforce the message that drivers need to keep their hands on the wheel, and their focus on the road.

“From this time last year, there has been a 17.8% increase in fatalities," says Capri. 

"The majority of those are roadway departure deaths, and the majority of those are from distracted driving.”

Repeat violators can get up to six months in jail and a $2500 fine for a third offense within a decade.

Exceptions include two-way radios for school bus drivers, and emergency response personnel on-duty.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Copyright 2018 KLCC

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. He is a 20-year reporter who has worked at NPR, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including three Edward R. Murrow Awards and the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award in 2012.