This page contains important information for international students who plan to drive in the U.S.
If you will own or drive a car while you are in Oregon please continue reading. We want you to have the best and safest experience possible. If you have a driving problem we can help.
What to do if you get a traffic ticket
Do you have a valid driver license?
Driving without a valid license is a violation with a maximum fine of $1,000. You cannot go to jail for driving without a valid license.
If you get a ticket for driving without a valid license, contact us for an appointment. Bring your ticket and any 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 and what to do when you go to court .
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.
Speeding is dangerous and costly
Speeding is a violation offense punishable with a fine that depends on how fast you were driving. The faster you were driving, the greater the fine. You cannot go to jail just for speeding.
If you get a speeding ticket contact us for an appointment. Bring your ticket to your appointment. An attorney will help you decide what to do when you go to court.
Sometimes speeding happens because of confusion between speed limits posted as miles per hour (MPH) versus kilometers per hour (KM/H). Pay attention to speed limit signs and obey them.
The United States is one of few countries that still uses the mile as a unit of measurement. The fact that you may be from a country that uses the metric system or you are unfamiliar with the miles-per-hour system used in Oregon will not prevent a conviction for speeding but may help minimize the fine.
The police can stop you for driving faster than the posted speed limit. 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 kph. 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:
15 mph – alleys and campus streets
20 mph – school zones and business districts
30 mph – residential neighborhoods
55 mph – highways and rural roads
60 mph – other highways
Don’t drive without valid insurance
Driving without car insurance is a violation offense punishable with a fine and other financial penalties. You cannot go to jail for driving without insurance.
If you get a ticket for driving without insurance contact us for an appointment. Bring your ticket and any proof of insurance to your appointment. An attorney will help you decide what to do when you go to court.
Car insurance is always required. You must have valid auto liability insurance when driving any motor vehicle in Oregon (or any other state), including any car you rent or a car your roommate or friend allowed you to borrow. You must have insurance even if you paid cash for your car.
Liability insurance pays for injury you cause to other people and their property. If you don’t have car insurance and you injure a person or property in a car accident that is your fault, you are responsible for paying for all damage that you caused.
We recommend that you buy more than the minimum liability insurance required by law. The extra insurance you buy 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 when you were stopped but did not have it with you, your ticket may be dismissed 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.
Don’t text and drive. Use only hands-free devices.
Driving while you text or talk on your phone (except hands-free) is against the law. If a police officer sees you handling your phone you can be stopped and ticketed for illegal cell phone use.
Illegal cell phone use is a violation offense punishable with a fine if you are found guilty. You cannot go to jail for illegal cell phone use while driving.
Drivers who are distracted with cell phones cause more traffic accidents and injury to others than drivers who don’t use their phones while driving. If your phone rings or you hear a text message alert pull over to answer, or wait until you can read or answer safely.
If you get a ticket for illegal cell phone use while driving contact us for an appointment. Bring your ticket to your appointment. An attorney will help you decide what to do when you go to court.
Always drive carefully!