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Traffic Photo Radar in Oregon


Public law librarians get a lot of questions about traffic tickets, especially photo radar. Here’s a very brief primer on the subject, the gist of which is, Talk to a Lawyer. They are the real experts.

Most of the “speed measuring device” statutes, which include radar, are in Chapter 810 of the ORS , but you’ll also want to look at ORS 811.

To plead your case, you will likely need to dig deeper than the statutes and into the case law and regulations – and talk to a defense attorney. There are many issues that can arise in photo radar challenges that could affect the outcome of your case, e.g. probable cause, equipment calibration and operation, etc. You will find it helpful to consult a defense attorney has experience defending people with speeding tickets.

The Oregon State Bar Information and Referral Service has a toll free number to call to get names of attorneys in your area; call their referral service at 503-684-3763 or 1-800-452-7636.
Other sources of information on Oregon Traffic Law:

1) There is an excellent article in the Oregon State Bar (OSB) Bulletin from August/September 2008: Traffic Law: What Every Lawyer Needs to Know

2) DMV rules and ODOT rules on speed, traffic control devices, etc. are in the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR).

3) Also, check out the Nolo Press topic on “Speeding tickets” and “Requesting Officer’s Notes before Trial” and their book about traffic court, Beat Your Ticket.

4) OSB public information page on traffic court/tickets: Should I Fight My Traffic Ticket?

5) And, don’t forget to look at Oregon Legal Research blog posts on traffic laws.

Disclaimer: It is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law (ORS 9.160, 9.166 and 9.21). They may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights. They may, however, assist patrons in locating materials or links that would aid in individual research.

The information provided on this blog is for research purposes only. We do not provide legal advice, nor do we endorse any person, product, or company.

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6 responses to “Traffic Photo Radar in Oregon”

  1. Anonymous says:

    How can we (citizens) make it illegal to Photo Radar?
    I really want to find out how…

  2. James says:

    This is wrong. I can see photo radar use in school zones and residential areas. But the practice of employing this method on a high way is revenue building and exploitation of a working poor population. Speeding tickets of any kind should have an income based system, where the alleged offender if found guilty is penalized on a income graduated scale. If someone chooses not divulge their income,then have a mandatory $500.00 fine for infractions within 15 mph of the limit. Major deterrent and fair.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I recently received a ticket for “not obeying a traffic signal” in Sherwood, Oregon. I was in a right-turn lane coming off Highway 99W, indicated, stopped, and made my turn. Shortly after, I saw a flash, and then two weeks later, received a $277 ticket in the mail. This is outrageous, and I believe this may be a questionable method by a city to mainly raise revenue. I am now researching the original law for photo radar and its amendments, and so far, I find no permission granted in any statute for Sherwood to operate such a device (each city has to have permission in a statute from what I have read). When traveling in this area later this month, I plan to investigate the area to see if the specifics of the law (signage, warnings, etc.) have been obeyed. This seems to be an example of why people oppose the law on constitutional (due process, etc.) and moral grounds. This also is not the kind of situation where a muncipality is trying to address a high speed zone with a bad accident history, or a left-turn signal issue at an intersection where late turns led to bad accidents. Perhaps there are other “features” at this intersection, but at this point, I do not know. I want to know if anyone knows anything else about this statute and the permissions/permits needed, or this situation/place. I attended city council meetings in Arizona when this law was being challenged constitutionally back in the 1990s, and I do not have a problem if photo radar is applied with restraint and honesty. My situation, and perhaps the use by Sherwood at this intersection is not in this category. I will be curious to read responses to this blog.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is a follow-up to a posting of an earlier posting about a photo-light control system. I know find out that to even plead not-guilty, I have to send in the fine beforehand. This is clearly unconstitutional and a complete side-stepping of due process. I have since heard of similarly offensive dynamics in Oregon over “offenses” that are so slight, if even “offenses legally,” that the abuse of the original photo radar idea, is clearly becoming epidemic. Citizens of Oregon need to write their representatives, their city governments, the Governor, and the Attorney General. Responsible administration of this technology to use as a deterrent in dangerous stretches of road or at dangerous intersections is one thing, the complete lack of allegience to the rule of law and due process, quite another, and one that also serves as an alternative “tax base.” The people need to fight this, and how. Only by mass action will this change.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So how do we fight this? Would a petition of signatures gathered and sent to state and city representatives be the way to go? My feeling is that this has definitely become a new tax base for the city and state and not being used for the good of the people. Do signs need to be posted near the lights that have cameras? I don't remember seeing any at the light where I supposedly ran a red light but I feel I was clearly in the intersection prior to the light turning red. What is the exact law on this? Since when does yellow mean stop? I thought it meant “caution”. I was told by an officer that you can't drive through a yellow light. Since when??? What would be the point in having them then?? I had a clean driving record for over 8 yrs then in the last 2 yrs I have had more tickets involving traffic lights than ever in my life. I say its revenue and not safety! I don't intentionally run red lights nor yellow ones. Their tactics on running yellow lights and the use of cameras in areas where there isn't safety concerns needs to stop. I struggle as it is to pay my bills and this has put a definite hardship on me when I do my best to be a good cautious driver. Another issue is that when you do have to pay the fine that if you can't afford to pay the full amount at once you get penalized and have to pay more for making payments. That is BS!! Something has to give.

  6. Caspertoo says:

    I for one believe that a photo radar ticket is less effective at changing driving habits than a police car just sitting by the road. You don’t truly find out about the ticket for many weeks, which is much longer than is necessary to change that specific habit. The purpose of traffic enforcement should be to change driver’s habits to get them in compliance with the law (within reason) and make our roads safer. If the photo radar tickets don’t impact driver habits, then what is their true purpose? A source of revenue for the cities that are enacting them. Do you ever wonder why county sheriff’s offices and the state police don’t have photo radar? Probably because a city council isn’t driving their train. I would 100% a state measure banning any moving violation ticket that isn’t presented by a CERTIFIED police officer at the time the ticket is issued.
    And I’m saying this as a 10 year veteran police officer with basic, intermediate, and advanced certifications. I don’t like underhanded taxes, government should be transparent and supported by the people.

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