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The following article was written by Andrew Mwangi.  He can be reached at andrew.mwangi66@gmail.com

You need to read this article and check the other sections of our website for helpful information. According to Oregon traffic rules, “if you drive at a speed that is unsafe for existing conditions in any area, at any time, even if it is slower than the speed limit, you are violating the basic rule” and “A speed limit is the maximum speed considered safe for the area under ideal driving conditions.” (Oregon Driver Manual). And there are at least 23 speeding related offenses in Oregon traffic laws.

Did you get a speeding ticket in Oregon?

You are hurtling down the street past a school or construction site. You miss the speed limit sign or fall into the temptation of overtaking at a speed above the limit. You could even be just flowing with the traffic (at above the limit!) – Yes, in Oregon, that could still land you in trouble. You might feel justified to floor your gas pedal in an emergency or to meet an appointment. But in all these cases, the hawk-eyed traffic officer and his speed gun could cut short your blissful moments. You dare not try to elude the law enforcer and in the process jump a red light or drive recklessly because you will only escalate the speeding offense.

Nobody desires a speeding ticket if they can help it, yet drivers find themselves entangled in speeding-related violations either inadvertently or willfully—well, sometimes it’s through a bit of mischief. Now that you have been slapped with a speeding ticket, you have to reckon with the traffic court. But hey, STOP before you rush to take a plea! Gather all the information you can get, consider the implications and consequences of each plea, and most of all avoid a restriction, suspension, or hefty fine. Get a knowledgeable person to explain your available options since the matter is not as simple as just paying the fine for a minor misdemeanor.

Plea options

Oregon courts give you four plea options:

  1. No-contest, court appearance
  2. No-contest, written submission
  3. Not-guilty plea, trial
  4. Not-guilty plea, written submission

In some cases, appearance is mandatory. If you enter a no-contest plea, then you will pay the fine and the offense will be entered in your record. Your insurer might be notified. If you plead no-contest by a written submission, then you will pay the presumptive fine and the offense will be entered in your records. Your insurer may be notified. If you opt for a not-guilty plea, then you will argue your case in court on the date indicated or you can request a rescheduling of the trial date, either by mail or personal delivery. A trial is expensive and time-consuming, but you can cut a deal with the DA to reduce the consequences. Finally, you can enter a not-guilty plea by written submission. You will post or deliver your written and signed defense and waive your right to a court appearance. You have to await the court’s determination. If you fail to enter any plea then a default judgment will be entered against you with the maximum fine allowed. In practice, only 5% of cases in Oregon end up in trial and 95% plead guilty, rather than face the ordeals of a trial.

Fines

Whichever way you plead, there will be bitter pills to swallow. Oregon does not have a points system. The Oregon Revised Statutes (2015) for speeding convictions are as follows;

Class  Excess Speed  Min. Fine    Max. Fine     Presumptive  Special Zones

“A”     over 30mph      $220             $2000             $435                $870

“B”      21 – 30mph      $130             $1000             $260                $520

“C”      11 – 20mph      $80               $500               $160                $320

“D”     Under 10mph   $60               $250               $110                $220

(Fines for a company vehicle are double those of a private vehicle).

The consequences are real

Apart from fines, you might incur other costs—financial or otherwise:

  • Your car insurance premium could increase by as much as 20% for the next three years.
  • You will waste time attending court (no wonder most people plead no-contest).
  • With a tainted driving record you will not only injure your ego, but it will also be harder to secure a driving-related job and to rent a car.
  • For habitual offenders, you might be slapped with a 30-day restriction for three convictions in 18 months, or a 30-day suspension for 4 convictions in 24 months.
  • Before reinstating your license, you are required to take the Driver Improvement Program course at your own cost and pay $75 fee for reinstating to the DMV division.

With all these inconveniences you might want to think twice before taking a plea.

Pay the fine or fight the ticket?

Chances of winning a trial are usually slim and mostly won on technicalities, but the reward is a clean record. The judge relies on the ticket issuer for expert knowledge, which can be based on observation only. You the driver are not qualified to judge speed, which is confusing and frustrating. You can still get a lenient conviction, but this will be challenging on your own and easier if you seek legal help.

BernieSez is an option, and free

If you have no time for a case, or you do not understand the procedure, then you most likely need legal help. A lawyer can advise you accordingly, argue your case, hammer a favorable deal with the DA, or prevent your record from being ‘smudged’. Our system is simple to use and best of all free.  Simply upload a picture of your ticket, fill out some details about your case, and Oregon traffic lawyers will contact you.  So instead of you reaching out to a bunch of lawyers one at a time, get them to reach out to you instead, all from a single upload.  Click or tap the button below to get started.