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Jeb Bladine: Technology driving more secret tapes

Oregon’s mountain of state laws is complexity personified. Just last year, about 750 bills added, deleted or amended laws we already didn’t fully understand.

Quick: What’s the minimum age to buy cigarettes? Does “burglary” require evidence of thievery? Can you be convicted of DUI for driving days after using marijuana because you still have THC in your system?

Here’s a state law many drivers violate every day: You must stop, and remain stopped, for any pedestrian stepping onto a roadway intersection with intent to cross. All intersections are legal crosswalks, whether marked or not, and those new downtown sidewalk bulb-outs extend into the roadway.

Too many people driving in downtown McMinnville are in too big a hurry, so let’s all be more careful out there. Things are even scarier along Baker and Adams streets when a vehicle stops in the lane closest to a pedestrian, but unwary drivers continue through in the other lane.

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Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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Here’s another misunderstood law: Many drivers think it’s legal to run a red light if the traffic signal was yellow when they entered the intersection. Oregon law says otherwise, though it’s seldom enforced except by red light cameras.

A solid yellow light means “right of way is being terminated.” Drivers are required to stop at yellow, unless they cannot stop safely — a far different standard from the gun-and-run move people often attempt when approaching a yellow light.

One of Oregon’s most misunderstood laws involves secret tape recordings. Here’s the reality in Oregon, though not in all states: Anyone can record a conversation with you so long as that person knows it is being recorded; anyone can distribute such a recording with consent of a knowing participant in the recorded conversation.

These are fine points of the law, of course, but in short, people should recognize that today’s technology makes surreptitious voice recordings almost automatic. Many office phone consoles have a button that records and saves conversations; cell phone apps can automatically record and save every call; cell phone voice-recorder apps put an audio recorder in anyone’s pocket.

We regularly feel lulled into assuming notice is required when a phone message warns us that the call may be recorded for training purposes. In Oregon, that warning isn’t required unless a non-participant is doing the recording.

So, remember: If, when driving, you swear on the phone because you ignored a yellow light or a pedestrian, you could be on tape.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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