This page contains important information about driving in Oregon.
If you are an international student planning to own or drive a car while you are at the UO, we want you to have the best and safest experience possible. Please continue reading.
3 Common Driving Problems for International Students:
- No valid license
- No insurance
What should you do if you get a traffic ticket?
Tickets for Driving Without a Valid License
Bring proof of valid home country / international or temporary visitor’s license to your appointment. An attorney will help you determine if your license is valid in Oregon.
Don’t rely on your home country’s driving license or an “international license.” It’s ALWAYS best to get an Oregon driver license. Why?
- You will learn the driving rules in this state that may be different from your home country or other states;
- You will make fewer driving errors, get fewer tickets and avoid accidents;
- You will learn about liability insurance requirements; and
- You will not risk getting a ticket for driving without a valid license.
Sometimes speeding happens because of confusion between speed limits posted as miles per hour (MPH) versus kilometers per hour (KM/H).
The United States is one of few countries that still uses the mile as a unit of measurement. The fact that you are from a country that uses the metric system or are unfamiliar with the miles-per-hour system used in Oregon will not prevent you from being found guilty of speeding but may help minimize the fine.
The police can stop you for driving faster than the posted speed limit. However, fines for driving more than 10 mph faster than the posted speed limit are always more expensive. Speed limits in Oregon are posted in MPH not in KM/H. For example, if the sign says “Speed limit 55” it means 55 miles per hour.
Speed limits in construction zones vary. Speed limits in school zones are usually 20 mph. Look for special construction zone and school zone speed limit signs and obey them. Remember: Fines in special construction zones and school zones are always more expensive.
The following chart is a basic table of conversions for common speed zones in Oregon:
Miles per hour to kilometers per hour
|15 mph – alleys and Campus streets||24 km/h|
|20 mph – school zones||32 km/h|
|30 mph – neighborhoods||48 km/h|
|55 mph – highways and rural roads||88 km/h|
|60 mph – highways||95 km/h|
Tickets for Driving Without Insurance
Car insurance is always required. You must have valid auto liability insurance when driving any motor vehicle in Oregon (or any other state) including one you rent or that a roommate or friend allowed you to borrow. Liability insurance pays for injury you cause to other people and their property. You must have insurance even if you paid cash for your car.
We recommend that you buy more than the minimum required liability insurance required by law. Additional insurance can pay for collision damage to your own car that you caused, damage to you and your car caused by an uninsured driver, and damage from vandalism or theft. If an accident is your fault and you have no insurance or only liability insurance, you are 100% responsible for paying to repair or replace your own car.
If you are stopped by the police you must give proof of liability insurance. If you had valid insurance at the time you were stopped but did not have it with you at the time, your ticket might be dismissed at court when you show proof that you were insured on the date of your ticket.
If you get convicted of driving uninsured or have an uninsured accident you will lose your privilege to drive in Oregon even if you have a valid license from another state or country. Buying insurance after you have an accident or get a ticket is always more expensive than buying insurance before an accident or ticket.
One more thing: Distracted Driving
Driving while you text or talk on your phone (except hands-free) is prohibited by law. If a police officer sees you using your phone you can be stopped and ticketed for illegal cell phone use. Also, drivers who are distracted with cell phones cause more traffic accidents than drivers who don’t use their phones while driving. If your phone rings or you hear a text message alert pull over or wait until you can read or answer safely.
Always drive carefully!