You probably won't be cited, but ...

I recently had a friend tell me that it was illegal to hang anything from your rearview mirror. Is there a statute that covers that or is it just something that some consider unsafe?

— Kevin S.

Kudos to your friend, Kevin, there is a statute that covers things hanging from your rearview mirror. ORS 815.220 describes the obstruction of vehicle windows, which is what applies in this case. It states a person has obstruction of their vehicle windows if they drive on any highway any vehicle with windows obstructed in a manner prohibited under the section.

The prohibition occurs when the windows of a vehicle are obstructed in a manner where any material that prohibits or impairs the ability to see into or out of the vehicle is upon any vehicle window listed. Those being the front windshield, the side-wings, the side windows on either side forward or adjacent to the driver's seat or the rear window. This applies to any sign, poster, one-way glass, adhesive film, glaze application or other material if the material prohibits or impairs the ability to see into or out of the vehicle. However, nothing prohibits legal safety glazing materials, proper placement of permits or the proper application of tinting material. The violation of having obstructed vehicle windows is a Class D traffic violation with a bail of $97.

So, as you can see, there is a law. Some of the most common violations are flower leis, fuzzy dice, and last but not least, disabled parking placards. If you happen to look at a disabled parking permit, you'll see that it has printed right on it something to the effect of "Remove from mirror while driving." That's because the placard or the lei or whatever else people might have hanging off their mirrors could block their view of hazards to their right.

Now is this something that we write a lot of cites over? No, even though there are seemingly zillions of those types of violations out there. But it may be a reason for being pulled over and given a warning, which is how I usually handle these violations.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly 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 e-mail

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