There are real rules of the road

Today's column consists of several areas of the vehicle code that are not being complied with and have been seen by our contract Forest Service Deputy Ralph Nelson. He believes these laws appear to be viewed by the public as rumors rather than law. So here's a small sampling from Deputy Nelson:

Front license plates, which are covered under ORS 803.525: It says that two license plates are issued for every vehicle except for a moped, motorcycle, trailer, antique vehicle or vehicle of special interest.

No, the state of Oregon isn't issuing one of them as a spare plate in case your rear plate falls off. Then ORS 803.540 advises that the plates must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle if only one plate is issued and on the front and rear of the vehicle if two plates are issued. By the way, "on the front" does not mean on the dash.

  • Fenders and mudflaps, under ORS 815.180: states all vehicles except commercial vehicles, trailers and vehicles more than 8,000 pounds are required to have the wheels covered the full width of the tire. Vehicles less than 8,000 pounds include most cars and pickups. Vehicles more than 8,000 pounds, trailers and commercial vehicles have stricter requirements. This law is being violated on a regular basis when the owner places over-width tires and wheels on the vehicle and the tires and wheels are sticking out from the edge of the fenders. They cannot stick out at all. This law applies to all four tires on both the front and rear axles of the vehicle.
  • Finally, lights on trailers, in ORS 816.320: States that ALL TRAILERS shall be equipped with:
  • Two tail lights;
  • Registration plate light;
  • Two brake lights; and
  • Two rear reflectors, which are usually incorporated with the tail lights.

This law is commonly violated when the driver states that they've heard that they do not need lights if the towing vehicle's lights are visible. This law applies to ALL TRAILERS, and does not change because of the size or width of the trailer or what the trailer is hauling. If you are towing a trailer, they will always need the above listed lights.

Dace Cochran is a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. Have a question for him? E-mail

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