Alyssa Sutton

License plate law goes into effect

A new Oregon consumer protection law will change requirements for transferring license plates from one vehicle to another beginning July 1.

Under House Bill 4062, passed by the 2018 Legislature, you will still be able to transfer plates with unexpired registration tags to another vehicle that you own. However, in a plate transfer between vehicles with different owners, both vehicles will begin new registration periods and both vehicles will be subject to all registration requirements.

“Some people were using plate transfers as a way to avoid making vehicle repairs to pass DEQ emissions testing,” DMV Administrator Tom McClellan said. “We also believe some people were stealing license plates and selling them online to unsuspecting buyers. This law change is intended to prevent those abuses.”

For registration to transfer with your plates, you must be listed as a registered owner in DMV records for the vehicle from which the plates were removed and apply for a title and plate transfer for the vehicle receiving the plates, or listed as the registered owner in DMV records for both vehicles.

If either of the vehicles involved in the plate transfer are owned by more than one person or business, at least one commonly registered owner must be listed in DMV records for both vehicles in order to transfer the registration with the plates.

—Oregon Department of Transportation

Beginning July, 1 the distracted driving law will be enforced in Oregon.

As of October 2017, drivers in Oregon can be pulled over for not only texting and talking on their cellphones, but also for navigating, using social media and any other “hands-on” cellphone and electronics use.

With the passing of House Bill 2597 during the 2017 session, repeat offenders will face steeper fines and even jail time for distracted driving.

Wording on the previous cellphone driving law made texting and talking on the phone the only primary distracted driving offenses, meaning if an officer spotted someone behind the wheel reading a Kindle or scrolling through Facebook, the driver couldn’t be pulled over solely for that.

The new law makes it illegal to drive in Oregon while holding or using any electronic device, including cellphones, tablets, GPS receivers and laptops.

Hands-free and built-in devices are allowed under the law.

Other exemptions include drivers making emergency medical calls; truck and bus drivers following federal rules; two-way radio use by school drivers and utility drivers during the scope of their employment; police, fire, ambulance and emergency vehicle operators during the scope of their employment; and ham radio operators.

Those convicted of a first-time distracted driving offense not contributing to a crash face a presumptive fine of $260, with a maximum fine of $1,000.

The court may suspend the fine for first-time offenders if the driver completes an approved distracted driving avoidance course within four months. Although the fine would be suspended, the violation would remain on the offender’s driving record.

A second-time offense or one involving a crash carries a presumptive fine of $435, with a maximum fine of $2,500.

Committing a third distracted driving offense in a 10-year span is considered a misdemeanor. The minimum fine is $2,000, but repeat offenders could face a $6,250 fine and up to one year in jail.

“Distracted driving is an epidemic in Oregon, and the consequences can be deadly,” said Troy E. Costales, Transportation Safety Division administrator. “Everyone using the transportation system — drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians alike — should put away the distractions when traveling to help eliminate these tragedies.”