New Oregon law makes “aggravated driving while suspended or revoked” a felony

Sen. Floyd Prozanski.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Recently passed House Bill 3271 — a bill that addresses a number of types of harassment — includes language that establishes the new crime of “Aggravated Driving While Suspended or Revoked”.

The bill passed through the Oregon Legislature late Thursday and the language to address aggravated driving was added as an amendment pushed by Senator Floyd Prozanski at the behest of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA). Sen. Prozanski, an avid bike rider, is also the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The House version of this bill passed with no mention of this new crime, but Prozanski got the crime of vehicular homicide added into the Senate version. The Senate passed it with the Prozanski amendment, but then the House refused to concur with the amendments (7 Republican House members voted no).

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From the House, it was assigned to a conference committee to work out the kinks. In that committee, the bill was amended to say that the new felony would be triggered not just when someone was killed, but also when a serious injury resulted. That change meant that “vehicular homicide” no longer adequately described the crime, and the new crime, “aggravated driving” was put forth.

Sen. Prozanski.

Also in conference committee, the bill was changed so that, in order for the new charge to stick, the motor vehicle operator must be “knowingly” driving with a suspended or revoked license and their license had to have been suspended due to, “a prior criminal conviction” as opposed to it being suspended for an administrative reason, such as failure to appear in court for a citation.

With these changes worked out, both and House and the Senate then re-passed the bill.

After their initial vehicular homicide bill, HB 3399, died in committee back in April, the BTA identified HB 3271 as a place where at least part of that bill could find some life.

The penalty would be charged as a Class C Felony, which carries a maximum prison term of 5 years and/or a maximum fine of $125,000.

BTA lobbyist and Legislative Committee Chair Doug Parrow said that, while the bill isn’t as broadly applicable to dangerous drivers as they had hoped, they believe that, “the establishment of the crime… represents an important step forward in holding these drivers responsible for their actions.”

Download the full text of the bill here.

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