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Oregon Traffic Laws

Oregon is a scenic state with diverse roads. You might take the coastal interstate highway or commute between Portland and Salem. Or, you can navigate winding backroads to your favorite campsite.

The driving conditions could significantly differ along your route, but the state driving laws apply wherever you roam. Learn about Oregon's traffic laws to protect your license and avoid expensive tickets — or even jail time.

The Oregon Vehicle Code

Title 59 of the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) sets the statewide driving laws. Learn the rules of the road. See the table below to find which statutes match common driving topics.

Drinking and driving violations Driving under the influence of intoxicants (ORS Vehicle Code Ch. 813)
Driving without a license/ with a suspended license Driving privileges and identification cards (ORS Vehicle Code Ch. 807)
Driving without insurance/ with insufficient insurance Financial responsibility law (ORS Vehicle Code Ch. 806)
Driving without registration/ with expired registration Vehicle title and registration (ORS 803.300 to 803.325 )
Illegal u-turn Illegal u-turn; penalty (ORS 811.365 )
Leaving the scene of an accident/ hit and run Accidents, duties, and reports (ORS 811.700 to 811.740)
Mechanical violations and unlawful vehicle modifications Vehicle equipment generally (ORS Vehicle Code Ch. 815) Vehicle equipment lights (ORS Vehicle Code Ch. 816)
Reckless driving Careless and reckless driving (ORS 811.135 to 811.140)
Running a red light/ stop sign Traffic control devices (ORS 811.260 to 811.270)
Seat belt/ child restraint violations Safety belts (ORS 811.210 to 811.225)
Speeding Speed (ORS 811.100 to 811.127)

Tips for Driving in Oregon

Whether you're a visitor or a longtime resident of Oregon, keep unique rules and tips like these in mind:

  • Stop at a yellow traffic signal instead of speeding up before it turns red (ORS 811.260)
  • Only make a right turn at a red light after checking for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and cyclists
  • When parking on the street, stay at least 10 feet away from fire hydrants and at least 20 feet away from crosswalks (ORS 811.550)
  • Never park in a bicycle lane
  • If you're approaching a stopped emergency vehicle, move over to a farther lane to keep a safe distance
  • Watch out for bicyclists who might not be riding in the bike lane, especially in busy areas like Portland
  • Check your vehicle for problems like burnt-out lights or an unsecured load before getting on the road

You can find more rules and traffic diagrams in the Oregon Driver Manual. Knowing and following the laws can help you avoid a stop by law enforcement.

Oregon Traffic Offenses

Police officers commonly pull over motorists for traffic violations such as:

  • Breaking a posted speed limit
  • Breaking the “basic rule" that drivers must keep a reasonable and safe speed for the road conditions, which might be slower than the limit
  • Drunk driving
  • Passing in a no-passing zone
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Distracted driving, such as texting behind the wheel

According to the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services (DMV), the state records roughly 400,000 traffic violations yearly. Though they are common, dealing with the consequences of a ticket may be anything but ordinary.

Penalties and License Suspension

Tickets usually carry fines from around $100 up to thousands of dollars. The first part of ORS Title 14, Chapter 153 lists how much a ticket might cost. The fine mostly depends on the violation class, meaning major offenses lead to more expensive fines. The cost is even higher if you break a traffic law in a work or school zone.

A traffic crime can have steeper consequences like jail time. For example, a reckless driving charge is a Class A misdemeanor with up to one year in prison. This jail sentence is in addition to over $6,000 in fines.

Oregon has a habitual offender program rather than a license point system. This program allows the state to suspend your license if you have too many traffic convictions on your driving record. Some traffic offenses, like drunken driving, also lead to an automatic license suspension.

Pulled Over? Call an Oregon Lawyer

A traffic case can threaten your freedom. Yet, some tickets and criminal charges don't tell the whole story. After checking the driving laws, you may disagree with the police officer's assessment.

You can avoid the penalties and reverse an automatic suspension if you successfully fight the ticket in traffic court. Guidance from a traffic law attorney can help you explain your perspective. Contact a local lawyer to start evaluating your case before your court date.

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