Distracted driver law drops Oct. 1
Canby Police, as well as county and state law enforcement, and area motorists are getting ready for a new law to go into effect next month which makes it illegal to hold a cellphone while driving.
Starting Oct. 1, it will be against the law for drivers to use their phone in almost any capacity while driving, adding restrictions to a previous law which made it illegal to talk or text with a phone while behind the wheel.
"I think it's something that people need to be aware of, certainly people need to be paying attention to what the limitations of the new law are," said Canby Police Chief Bret Smith. "People need to understand the law and look at alternatives to not be in a position of meeting the definition of being a distracted driver."
The new law prohibits drivers from making calls, checking social media or using navigation apps while the car is moving. Holding an electronic device — including cellphones, tablet computers, GPs systems or laptops — will be illegal under the law.
"People are going to have to be pulled over to the side of the road, and off the public right-of-way," said Smith. "If you're at a stop light and stopped, that doesn't mean it's okay to use the phone."
Across the state, officers are getting ready to implement the new law.
Gov. Kate Brown signed House Bill 2597 in to law on Aug. 2
The new law is aimed at cutting down the number of reckless driving crashes. Oregon has seen a sharp climb in traffic fatalities since 2013, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Last year, more than 500 people died in car crashes across the state.
It has been illegal to talk on your phone while driving for years, but drivers were still able to do other things, including reading and checking social media.
Smith said that Canby's officers will be enforcing the new law, but also want to make sure there's an educational piece to what's about to change.
"We'll take a look at it and make sure we're addressing those issues as we see them, but also want to provide education to our community as well," said Smith.
Fines range from $260 to $1,000 for a first-time offense, jumping to as much as $2,500 if drivers are caught a second time. A third offense in a 10-year period is considered a misdemeanor crime, with repeat offenders facing as much as $6,250 fine and up to one year in jail.
An incident in Washington County prompted lawmakers to enact the stricter law. Oregon State Police arrested Beaverton resident Esmirna Rabanales-Ramos on drunken driving charges after a trooper reportedly saw the glow of a cellphone illuminate her as she drove.
In 2015, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled the trooper had no probable cause to stop her, since using a cellphone wasn't against the law, only using it to talk or text.
If drivers must talk on the phone while driving, the phone can be on speaker phone.
Guideline Canby PD
will be following
(1) No one under the age of 18 years can use a mobile electronic device while driving a car. PERIOD. So no hands free devices, blue tooth, etc.
(2) It will be the officer's responsibility to correctly classify each offense by looking at the DMV record prior to issuing a citation. At this point, the prior convictions for mobile vehicle offenses will only count against someone if the conviction occurred AFTER Oct. 1, 2017. So if a person has a 2015 mobile device conviction, it will not enhance the classification of the offense.
(3) The law allows law enforcement to use a mobile device within the scope of employment.
First offense - Class B Traffic Violation
First offense with an accident - Class A Violation
Second Offense within 10 years - Class A Violation
Third Offense within 10 years - Class B Misdemeanors.