We all know that distracted driving is dangerous. We’ve all seen people who drive while reading the paper, shaving, and applying makeup. In Oregon and beyond, however, legislators have taken special note of cell phone use, with many believing it to be a crisis that follows in the footsteps of drunk driving.
In 2013, police issued about 3,500 citations and 1,600 warnings to drivers for cell phone use. As of January 1 this year, drivers must be prepared to follow new laws on cell phone use. We’ve had numerous revisions to these laws over the past few years, so it’s worth stating the most important rules (see the full text here):
- Drivers cannot use a hand-held cell phone for any reason (calling or texting included)
- Drivers over age 18 can use cell phones with a hands-free device (like a Bluetooth, or a car kit)
- Violations of the cell phone law are class C offenses
- Judges can impose fines of up to $500.00
- Exception: drivers using a phone to call for emergency or medical help (if no one else in the car can make the call)
- Exception: drivers operating ambulances or emergency vehicles
- Exception: drivers using cell phones for farming or agricultural operations
Violation of the cell phone law is a primary offense, meaning that police officers do not need any other reason to pull the vehicle over.
Discovery of Cell Phone Data in Oregon Personal Injury Cases
Many of our clients are injured because other drivers disobey the cell phone laws. This information can be particularly useful at trial. There are a number of ways that can determine whether another driver was using a cell phone illegally at the time of an accident:
- The other driver admits it, either at the accident scene or in court
- Someone saw the driver using a cell phone
- Interrogatories: when a lawsuit is filed, we have the right to ask written questions of the negligent driver. We often request information on whether the driver has a cell phone, the cell phone carrier, the phone number, and whether any calls, texts or e-mails were sent or received near the time of the accident.
- Requests for Production: when a lawsuit is filed, we can also request that the negligent driver provide us with documents relating to the accident. We often request copies of cell phone bills, which can provide important information on cell phone use.
- Subpoenas: Once we know the cell phone carrier and the cell phone number, we can force the cell phone carrier to give us information on cell phone use at the time of the accident. If phone calls, texts, or data usage happened near the time of the accident, we can use that at trial.
If you have questions about a car, truck or motorcycle accident, and want to find out if the negligent driving was illegally using a cell phone, contact our automobile injury lawyers at 1-541-617-0555, or fill out our internet Contact form on the right side of the page.
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