SALEM — From pumping gas to pumping a bicycle pedal, new state laws will change the way Oregon residents get around in 2018 — and how much they will pay to get behind the wheel or handlebars.
Some laws passed by the Legislature over summer are in force, such as a tougher distracted-driving law that went into effect in October. Not only is it against the law to use a cellphone while driving, drivers can’t even have an electronic device in their hand, even when stopped for a red light. Fines of up to $1,000 for a first offense await scofflaws.
Among other changes in the law:
Fender-benders: Drivers involved in an accident with under $2,500 in damage no longer need report the incident to police, a $1,000 increase from the previous threshold. But accidents that result in injury or damage to property over $2,500 or those that require a vehicle be towed from the accident still require a report to law enforcement.
New car tax: A new half-percent tax on auto dealers for “the privilege of engaging in the business of selling” new cars in Oregon takes effect. Although officially paid by dealers, there’s nothing in the law to prevent passing the cost to customers as part of the final sale price.
Transportation taxes: A $5.3 billion transportation program will start dipping into Oregonians’ wallets. A statewide 0.1 percent payroll tax will go to building and repairing roads and other transportation-related projects.
The gas tax will go up 4 cents, to 34 cents per gallon. In comparison, the gas tax is 41.7 cents per gallon in California, up 12 cents from this time last year.
Car registrations will go up $13 to $43. Regular title fees will rise $16 to $93.
Bike tax: Oregon will become the first state in the nation to tax the sale of higher-end bicycles, with $15 tacked onto the sale price of bikes costing more than $200 or having a wheel diameter of more than 26 inches.
Fare jumping: Evading bus fares carries a lesser penalty in 2018 under a new law to reduce breaking the law from a Class A to Class C misdemeanor. That lowers the top fine from $6,250 to $1,250. Courts have the option of imposing a fine of not more than double the amount of the “defendant’s gain” for breaking the law. The law was approved to reduce court and jail costs involved with prosecuting poor and indigent defendants who committed no other crimes.
Self-serve gas: Drivers in Prineville and Madras will be allowed to pump their own gas 24 hours a day, under a revision of the state’s long-standing law mandating full-service stations. In 2015, the state legalized “sundown to sunup” self-serve gas in rural areas between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Under a new law, self-service is allowed any time, although stations are required to have at least one employee on duty between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The self-serve law affects only 15 counties, all with populations under 40,000 population.
Crook and Jefferson counties qualify, but drivers in Deschutes County will still have to have their cars gassed up for them. Full-service stations were once the norm nationwide. California introduced self-service gas stations in 1947. Oregon and New Jersey are the last two states with some vestige of a requirement that gas be pumped by a station employee.
• Drivers can black out or otherwise obscure their addresses on vehicle registration and proof-of-insurance documents.
• Drivers of many three-wheeled vehicles no longer have to take a special driving test to get a vehicle permit. Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if your ride qualifies.
• Hardship permits — given to drivers who otherwise have their driving privileges suspended because of violations — can now be granted for driving to and from gambling addiction therapy. Only permits issued after Jan. 1 qualify.
• Approved recipients of Ex-Prisoner Of War (P.O.W.) license plates will not have to pay special plate renewal fees.
• The cost of the special license plates showing Crater Lake will rise from $10 to $15.
— Reporter: 541-525-5280, email@example.com