Turn on, but don't tune in
We had a pretty good discussion here yesterday about what the new Oregon cell phone driving law actually prohibits. "Using" a "mobile communication device" (including a cell phone) in any way while operating a motor vehicle is a violation, unless one of the exceptions applies. That would appear to include reading e-mail, checking sports scores, and using Shazam to identify that cool song on the car radio. Moreover, it appears that one is "operating" a vehicle if the ride is turned on and the driver is behind the wheel, even if it's just sitting at a long stop light.
However, it appears that merely turning the phone on or off, or turning any of its features on or off, does not constitute "using" it for purposes of this law. And so if you need an excuse, you might try, "Your honor, I was just turning the ringer off," and see how you do. Good luck with that.
An interesting question is whether using one of the local programs on a phone, which requires no internet communication, is an impermissible "use." My bet would be that it is, but that would seemingly discriminate between the address book on an old-fashioned Palm Pilot (which I think would be legal, because that's not a communication device, is it?) and the same data on a smart phone. If you're looking at your calendar on Google calendar, you're in trouble. But if it's just on your creaky old PDA, with no phone in it, you very well might be all right; that would be just like looking at a paper Filofax (remember those?). So stand by with, "Officer, it's not a phone -- trust me!"
811.507. (1) As used in this section:Have fun on the loophole hunt, everybody.(a) “Hands-free accessory” means an attachment or built-in feature for or an addition to a mobile communication device, whether or not permanently installed in a motor vehicle, that when used allows a person to maintain both hands on the steering wheel.
(b) “Mobile communication device” means a text messaging device or a wireless, two-way communication device designed to receive and transmit voice or text communication.
(2) A person commits the offense of operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile communication device if the person, while operating a motor vehicle on a highway, uses a mobile communication device.
(3) This section does not apply:(a) To a person who is summoning medical or other emergency help if no other person in the vehicle is capable of summoning help;
(b) To a person using a mobile communication device for the purpose of farming or agricultural operations;
(c) To a person operating an ambulance or emergency vehicle;
(d) To a person 18 years of age or older who is using a hands-free accessory;
(e) To a person operating a motor vehicle while providing public safety services or emergency services as a volunteer;
(f) To a person operating a motor vehicle while acting in the scope of the person's employment as a public safety officer, as defined in ORS 348.270;
(g) To a person operating a motor vehicle in the scope of the person's employment if operation of the motor vehicle is necessary for the person's job;
(h) To a person activating or deactivating the mobile communication device or a function of the device;
(i) To a person who holds a valid amateur radio operator license issued or any other license issued by the Federal Communications Commission and is operating an amateur radio;
(j) To a person who operates a two-way radio device that transmits radio communication transmitted by a station operating on an authorized frequency within the citizens' or family radio service bands in accordance with rules of the Federal Communications Commission;
(k) To a person using a function of the mobile communication device that allows for only one-way voice communication while the person is:
(A) Operating a motor vehicle in the scope of the person's employment;
(B) Providing transit services to persons with disabilities or to senior citizens; or
(C) Participating in public safety or emergency service activities.
(4) The offense described in this section, operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile communication device, is a Class D traffic violation.