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Distracted driving law gets stricter come July

Starting next month, distracted drivers with repeat offenses could face jail time.

Currently, Oregon drivers face a minimum $265 first-time fine for distracted driving and a maximum of $1,000.

Second-time offenses or ones that involve a crash carry even pricier fees, with a fine of $440 or a maximum fine of $2,500. By the third offense within a 10-year period, it becomes a misdemeanor crime and drivers could face up to six months in jail — the latest addition to the law.

First-time offenders may have their fines waived if they complete a distracted driving avoidance course.

House Bill 2597, passed last year, aimed to limit distracted driving by addressing a loophole in Oregon’s hands-free law that allowed drivers to use their phone as long as they weren’t talking or texting on it.

Under the 2009 law, there was no provision that stated people couldn’t hold their phone and use it for navigation, for instance.

In October, it became illegal for drivers to hold any hand-held electronic device, including cellphones, tablets, mobile GPS or laptops while driving in Oregon. Navigation apps can be used, as long as both the driver’s hands remain on the wheel, though they can touch the device once to activate a navigation program that’s already been programmed. Drivers under 18-years-old cannot use cellphones at all, even with a Bluetooth device.

Exemptions include two-way radio use by log truck drivers, school bus drivers and utility workers. It also exempts police, fire, ambulance and emergency vehicle operators during the scope of their employment.

Roseburg Police Sgt. Gary Klopfenstein said the distracted driving law allows law enforcement to catch people that aren’t fully focused on the road. For example, when they’ve got their knee on the steering wheel and they’re texting.

“And give them awareness hopefully before they’re driving in such a manner,” Klopfenstein said, “It just takes that split second of you looking down.”

He said the citations are more about the behavior change and can hopefully prevent an accident in the future.

Oregon State Police spokesman Tim Fox said fatal car crashes are up 20 percent this year.

“I can tell you that distracted driving contributes to a large amount of fatal and serious injury crashes,” Fox said.

He said there are five factors that contribute to a majority of accidents: speed, occupant safety, lane safety, impaired driving and distracted driving.

In 2015, there were 26 crashes caused by “inattention” in Douglas County, 11 of which caused injuries and 2 of which were fatal, according to Oregon Department of Transportation data.

Riddle boy to design Nike shoe and apparel

A Riddle boy is one of six kids receiving care at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland that will get to design a special Nike shoe and apparel collection that will be auctioned off to benefit the hospital.

Donovon Dinneen, 10, will be one of the patient-designers for the 2018 Doernbecher Freestyle program.

Doernbecher officials say Donovon can not only stand on his head, but he can also run on his knees. In 2010, he was diagnosed with a rare meningococcal infection that resulted in a kidney transplant and a quadruple amputation. He loves basketball, Pokemon cards and his mom.

The creations tell each patient-designer’s personal story is inspired by their lives, medical journeys and hopes for the future in shoe form.

The designs will be revealed on Saturday, Nov. 10 at the annual Doernbecher Freestyle auction in Portland.

All six collections will be available for retail purchase at and at select retail locations later this year.

The Doernbecher Freestyle program is now n its 15th year, has raised nearly $20 million for the hospital.

Mike Henneke/The News-Review  


A bald eagle soars above the North Umpqua River near the Roseburg Rod & Gun Club last week. More clear weather is forecast this week with temperatures predicted in the 70s by mid week.

MSullivan / MICHAEL SULLIVAN/News-Review photos  

Carson Doerres of Roseburg, left, receives a high-five from Diane Lustri of Myrtle Creek Saturday in Roseburg. Doerres was participating in the Second Annual Douglas County Pride March while Lustri was visiting the Umpqua Valley Arts Association Arts Festival.

Buy a car, get a gun sale held to support second amendment

A sign reading “Buy a car, get a gun” was put up last Tuesday in front of Earnest Auto Sales, the same day that 200 people meet on the county courthouse lawn for a rally in support of the Second Amendment.

Employee Martin Leffler said owner Jeremy Magar bought the sign for the attention, but acknowledged most people who are intrigued by it realize that the sale is not as crazy as it may seem. Anyone who purchases a car from the lot will be given a certificate that can be exchanged for pre-selected firearm from Roseburg Gun Shop. The value of each firearm averages around $300.

If the customer is ineligible to receive a firearm under federal, state or local laws, then the certificate will be forfeited. Only one certificate given per purchase, made out to the vehicle’s owner and are non-transferable. Must be 18 years or older to participate and the customer is responsible for all background fees, taxes and additional costs.

Magar timed the sale with the rally on purpose to turn some heads. He originally came up with the idea for the sale three years ago but only recently decided to implement it after hearing about the rally. He hopes that the attention the sale creates will bring about a discussion on gun rights, something he feels is being threatened.

“It’s not just a sales gimmick,” Magar said. “It’s to raise awareness that people are going after our gun rights.”

Magar worked on the sale for weeks before finalizing it and putting up the sign. He spoke with the Oregon State Police and several attorneys before approaching Roseburg Gun Shop with the intent to do a limited-run sale.

Preston, an employee at the gun shop who did not want to give his last name, said that the gun shop recommended the use of sporting rifles as opposed to handguns as federal law requires a person to be at least be 21 years of age to purchase a handgun from a licensed dealer. He believes that through this deal that Magar is trying to support the Second Amendment and the local community where recreational shooting is prevalent.

“A small business, Earnest Auto Sales, is trying to be local friendly, support the constitution, Preston said. “For Roseburg, Douglas County, hunting and recreational shooting is a big part of society, and he’s trying to show that he supports that.”

Last Wednesday the Douglas Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to place a Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance on the ballot in November. It would give voters a chance to reaffirm their rights to bear arms. This includes semi-automatic weapons and high capacity feed systems.

Magar paid for 10 rifles of four different models, all sporting rifles, to use for this sale.While initially planned to last for just a month, if it goes well, he will consider extending the sale indefinitely.

“I wouldn’t mind keeping it going and have that being my thing,” Magar said. “Who doesn’t like free guns?”