Traffic violation fines set to decrease

Here's a post-Christmas gift for drivers out there: Starting Jan. 1, 2012, fines for traffic violations will be going down.

Some speeding violations, for example, will drop from $190 to $160 and driving while suspended will drop from $472 to $435.

The state will be using a different method for taking its percentage of those citations, but those are internal accounting issues. For the driving public, the changes simply mean that getting caught will now cost you a little less than before.

There are a couple of other things to remember about the upcoming new year. All Class A and B violations will automatically double if they occur within special zones such as school zones, safety corridors or highway work zones. Class C and Class D speed violations will also double if they occur within special zones.

Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana will be cited at $650, as will refusing to take a breath test when arrested on a charge of driving while under the influence of intoxicants.

Finally, remember that the cell phone law also changes — there will no longer be an employment exemption that allowed you to use your phone while driving if it's necessary for your job.

The following exemptions remain, however:

  • Persons calling emergency help if no one else in the vehicle is capable of calling.
  • Operators of ambulances or emergency vehicles.
  • Public safety officers acting in the scope of their employment.
  • Operators of tow trucks acting in the scope of their employment.
  • Operators of utility company vehicles acting in the scope of their employment.

If you're cited under the modified cell phone law it's still a Class D violation and will now cost you the new amount of $110.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a regular Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or email

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