Ever since cellphones became affordable and popular, distracted driving has been a major safety hazard in the United States. In response, Oregon and almost every other state have passed anti-distracted driving laws to try to force motorists to put down their phones and other distractions to focus on the road instead.
Distracted driving and the law in Eugene
Every state has its own approach to combating distracted driving. Since October 2017, Oregon has banned handheld device use while driving. If the police catch you texting or talking on your phone or using an app while behind the wheel, it’s a Class B traffic violation and a fine of up to $1,000 as long as it’s a first offense and you did not cause a car accident. You might be able to persuade the judge to suspend the fine if you agree to attend a class about how to avoid driving while distracted, though the offense will still appear on your driving record.
If a car accident was involved, the offense goes up to Class A and the maximum fine doubles. The same is true if it is a second offense. And a third distracted driving offense within a decade bumps the charge up to a Class B misdemeanor. That means the judge could sentence you to up to six months in jail.
Exceptions to the rule
The law contains several exceptions. Probably the most important one lets you use your phone or other device hands-free (i.e., voice-activated) if you are at least 18. You are also allowed to touch your phone once to activate or deactivate it, and call 911 for a medical emergency if nobody else is around to do it.
Distracted driving is dangerous and careless. It greatly raises the risk of somebody getting seriously hurt in a wreck. If this has happened to you or a loved one was killed by a distracted driver in Eugene, you have the right under Oregon law to pursue full compensation. Nobody should have to bear the burden of massive hospital bills, pain and suffering and other consequences of another driver’s reckless decisions.