International Students

Welcome to Oregon! If you plan to own or drive a car we want you to have the best and safest experience possible.  This page contains important information about driving in Oregon.

The Most Common Driving Problem for International Students is Getting Traffic Tickets

The three most common traffic tickets for international students driving in Oregon are:

  1. No valid license
  2. Speeding
  3. No insurance

What should you do if you get a traffic ticket?

Phone 541.346.4273 to schedule a free appointment with ASUO Student Legal Services.  However, you may also obtain legal services independent of the ASUO Student Legal Services Program from an attorney of your own choosing at your own expense.

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.

It’s always a good idea to get an Oregon driver license because:

  1. You will learn the driving rules in this state that may be different from your home country or other states;
  2. You will be less likely to make driving errors, get fewer tickets and avoid accidents;
  3. You will learn about liability insurance requirements; and 4)  You will not have to worry about getting tickets for driving without a valid license.

Speeding Tickets

International students sometimes violate the posted speed limits because of confusion over miles per hour (MPH) versus kilometers per hour (KM/H).

The United States is one of the only countries in the world that still uses the mile as a unit of measurement. The fact that you are from a country that uses the metric system and that you are unfamiliar with the miles per hour system used in Oregon  will not get you out of paying the ticket but may help you minimize the fine.

The following chart is a basic table of conversions for common speed zones in Oregon:

Miles per hour to kilometers per hour

10 mph 16 km/h
15 mph 24 km/h
School bus zones – 20 mph 32 km/h
Campus area streets – 15 mph 24 km/h
Many residential streets – 30 mph 48 km/h
35 mph 56 km/h
40 mph 64 km/h
45 mph 72 km/h
50 mph 80 km/h
Many rural roads – 55 mph 88 km/h
60 mph 95 km/h

Police can stop you for driving any speed greater than the posted speed limit. However, fines for driving at speeds more than 10 miles per hour above 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.  Look for special construction zone speed limit signs and obey them.  Remember:  Fines in special construction zones and school zones are always more expensive.

Tickets for Driving Without Insurance

You must have valid liability insurance when driving any motor vehicle in Oregon 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.

You can and should buy more than the minimum insurance required by law, to pay for collision damage to your own car 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 do have no insurance or only minimum liability insurance, you are 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 of insurance.

If you did not have valid liability insurance you will be required to purchase insurance.   Ask your insurance agent about liability insurance that complies with Oregon law.  We recommend that you purchase more than the minimum amount required by law.

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.

Please drive carefully!

Serving UO students since 1971