Cell phone ban for young drivers approved in Oregon

| Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A bill that would enable law enforcement in Oregon to pull over the state’s youngest drivers for using cell phones is headed to Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s desk.

The House and Senate reached agreement on a bill – HB2872 – that would prohibit drivers under 18 from using any cell phone, pager or BlackBerry-type device while at the wheel. Police could only ticket offenders for chatting on the phone after pulling them over for another traffic offense.

Senators had sought to allow for primary enforcement of the restriction. Opponents objected to that effort saying it could lead to racial profiling.

Rep. Greg Macpherson, D-Lake Oswego, the bill’s author, said the intent of the legislation is to make sure new drivers stay off their cell phones. Violators would face up to $90 fines.

At least a dozen states already ban or restrict young drivers from using cell phones. Currently, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York have the only statewide laws restricting hand-held cell phone use for all drivers. In 2008, California and Washington are slated to implement their own rule. No state prohibits hands-free usage for all drivers.

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