Oddball Oregon laws: $1K fine for pumping your own gas

EUGENE, Ore. - When you need a fillup, find a gas station and pull up - but don't think of picking up the pump.

"It's on the bottom of your birth certificate: I will never pay sales tax and I will never pump my own gas," said Gordon Zimmerman, city administrator of Oakridge. "You didn't know that?"

Oregon and New Jersey are the only two states in the country where drivers can be fined up to a thousand dollars for pumping their own gas.

And while many Oregonians don't know why the law exists, they give their best guesses.

"In theory, it was because of safety concerns?" said Casey Wilson, owner of an ARCO station in Springfield.

"Probably because it gives people jobs?" ventured Richie Escalante of Springfield.

"This is weird," said Rickie Stone, visiting Oregon from New York City. "In New York, we don't do this. In New York, we pump our own gas."

"A lot of states, sometime after World War II, laws were passed thoughout the united states that made it illegal to pump your own gas mainly for safety reasons," said Pat Farr, a Eugene City Councilor.

Looks like we have a winner: The self-service gas law hit the books in 1951 and has managed to stick around.

It's not the only offbeat law or city ordinance in Oregon.

For example, a law specifically prohibits carrying a baby on the running boards of a car or truck while driving on the highway in Oregon.

In the town of Yamhill, it's illegal to predict the future.

In Eugene, dogs are banned on 13th Street near the University of Oregon.

And in Oakridge, you can't display electric sign.

Such oddball laws are rarely enforced, and they can fly under the radar for years because lawmakers have bigger fish to fry.

"It's not a priority," Farr said, "but sometimes it can be good to clean things up a bit,"

Cleaning up ordinances can cost a city up to $4,000, leaving many outdated rules on the books.

City officials said until the economy improves and crime ebbs, they'll leave the ordinance analysis to the humorists.

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