Strict new cell phone laws, especially for teens

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As of January 1, 2010, you are not allowed to “operate a motor vehicle while using a mobile communication device” if you are under 18 years of age. Hands-free accessories are not allowed. A mobile communication device is defined as “a text messaging device or a wireless, two-way communication device designed to receive and transmit voice or text communication.” The offense, operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile communication device, is a primary offense and a Class D traffic violation. A conviction for this violation counts toward the Provisional Driver Improvement Program.

Medford Representative Sal Esquivel was a major sponsor of HB2377, which was passed by the 2009 legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kulongoski at the end of July. The number of accidents said to have been related to the use of cell phones numbered 362 in 2007. That was an 82 percent increase from 2004.

The new law allows those over the age of 18 to use a cell phone while driving provided they have a hands-free device.

There are some exceptions to the law, but most Oregonians could find themselves with a ticket if they continue to talk on a cell while driving.

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