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Loophole gets Oregon drivers around ban of talking on cellphone while driving

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Loophole gets Oregon drivers around ban of talking on cellphone while driving
Beginning this morning, Oregon drivers had awoken to a new reality besides the fact that the calendar had turned to 2010. A new law went into effect preventing drivers in the state from driving while using a cellphone at the same time. There is a loophole, though, and it presents police officials with quite a problem in enforcing the law because of the wording of the bill as it passed the Oregon legislature in 2009. According to the law, there is an exemption. Cellphone use while driving is permitted "in the scope of the person's employment if operation of the motor vehicle is necessary for the person's job."This sentence was written in with truck drivers, taxi drivers, tow truck drivers and delivery truck drivers in mind. But because there is no specific wording to that effect, when pulled over by the Po-po, you can try to act as though the call you are on is to a business associate or co-worker even if you are really talking to your bud about the Portland Trailblazers last NBA contest or the Oregon Ducks chances in the Rose Bowl. "There is a gray area," says Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings. "It doesn't clearly define what jobs fall under the exemption. Ultimately, maybe judges are going to have to clarify that." Yes, this seems like a law that is going to be challenged in court quite a bit until the legal system or the legislature closes the loophole. Under the law, the police can pull you over for talking on your handset while driving and those given a ticket will face a minimum $142 fine.

Oregon joins 6 other states that have a similar law in the books that prevents driving while talking on a cellphone. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that Oregon is the only state with such broad language in the law that allows for this specific job-related loophole. The other states that ban driving and phone use allow an exception by emergency responders and tow truck drivers. The Oregon law also bans driving while sending text messages. Those over 18 are allowed to drive and talk on a phone using a hands free accessory. One of the chief architects of the bill, Rep. Carolyn Tomei, said that compromises were needed to get the bill passed. She said that the intent of the business use exemption was to cover those whose principle workplace is their vehicle. "It was pretty clear in our minds that nobody can use a hand-held cell phone while driving unless their vehicle is part of their job — the tow truck driver, the bus driver, taxi drivers, delivery people," Tomei said.

Some police officials in the state have already been asked by drivers if their job qualifies them for an exemption. Sgt. Derel Schulz (No, not the  'I know noth....ing' Sgt. Schulz!) of the Eugene Oregon traffic division was asked by a nursery owner if he was allowed to drive and talk on his cellphone. The officer felt that the exemption would be allowed since the landscapers' vehicles are needed for their job. Sgt. Schulz says that the law is off to a good start despite the issues involved. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 15 people were killed in a car crash where a cellphone was considered to have played a role. Cellphones were a factor in 1,048 crashes over the same three year period. State officials are hoping that with the new law will come fewer distractions leading to fewer deaths and accidents.

source: TheStreet

6 Comments
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posted on 20 Oct 2010, 01:44

1. WnnaFghtAboutIt (Posts: 149; Member since: 31 Aug 2009)


change the law....idiots...

posted on 01 Jan 2010, 23:25

2. phone333 (Posts: 331; Member since: 04 Feb 2009)


-I know right !!!

posted on 02 Jan 2010, 12:59

3. Striker13084 (Posts: 128; Member since: 30 Mar 2009)


one easy line "driving Commercial vehicles"

posted on 02 Jan 2010, 16:30

4. renegade626 (Posts: 54; Member since: 12 Dec 2008)


Even that is too broad.... Too many people drive work vehicles as their own personal vehicles.... If a mary kay seller gets passed up on a ticket over me, thats not a fair law.

posted on 03 Jan 2010, 12:24

5. Dood (Posts: 269; Member since: 23 Mar 2009)


Mary Kay sales reps use thier car for thier work though. What do you do in your car that's classified business?

posted on 15 Mar 2010, 01:49

6. Maroussia (Posts: 2; Member since: 27 Jan 2010)


It will be great to watch Portland Trail Blazers, i have bought tickets fromhttp://ticketfront.com/event/Portland_Trail_Blazers-tickets looking forward to it.

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