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Yes, Virginia, You CAN Make a Citizen’s Arrest in Oregon: Who Knew?


Another hitherto little noticed section of the ORS (see also the Jury “Duty” post about ORS 10.235): this time, it’s ORS 153.058, Initiation of violation proceeding by private party.

(Perhaps I should have my readers working on the ORS instead of the Oregon Constitution?)

See the story in the Willamette Week, by Corey Pein, 9/3/08: DIY Justice: In Oregon, The Man lets you be The Man, too. Here’s how to play traffic cop.


“…. It was a silver BMW. As it passed—very slowly—the passenger-side mirror struck Barnett’s elbow. “It scared the bejeezus out of me, but there was no actual physical damage,” Barnett says. “I’m lit up like a Christmas tree, so for him to not see me, I find it hard to believe.”

There were no witnesses. But the driver later told police that he had “noticed traffic backed up due to a lone bicyclist riding out in the roadway.”

Barnett memorized the BMW’s license plate number. The next day, he called Portland’s most prominent “bike lawyer,” Ray Thomas, and asked what could be done.

Most bad roadside encounters either pass without consequence or escalate into road rage. But Thomas educated Barnett about a state law so obscure many cops don’t know it exists—Oregon Revised Statute 153.058, “Initiation of violation proceeding by private party.” Write that down. You might want to use it…. ” (link to full article)

The online WW article seems not to have the “Just Got Swiped?” info-box that is in the print WW edition (or at least I can’t find it on their web site), but it has useful leads to:

The Ray Thomas’s how-to guide, including links to forms (and I know how everyone LOVES forms, but sometimes there really IS a fill-in-the-blank form in Oregon – who knew?!)

Another post on this subject is here, at the Oregon Cycling Magazine.

See my previous bicycle, pedestrian, and traffic posts, here and here and here.

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