Green Vehicle Laws and Regulations in Oregon

Oregon ranks among the greenest states in the country for good reason. It enlists numerous laws specific to protecting the environment, including vehicle-related legislation. This includes emissions test and vehicle registration requirements for alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), fuel excise tax, electric vehicle (EV) charging station regulations, and more.

Oregon Emissions Testing for Alternative Fuel Vehicles

Oregon requires certain vehicles registered with the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division (DMV) in and around the Medford and Portland-Metro areas to pass an emissions test as part of the OR Department of Environmental Quality's Vehicle Inspection Program (VIP). Use the VIP Boundary-Address Matching tool to determine if your vehicle is registered within a DEQ emissions testing area.

Within the DEQ emissions test boundary, the following fuel-efficient vehicles require a Certificate of Compliance for passing an emissions test:

  • Vehicles that run on alternative fuels (including propane).
  • Hybrid vehicles*.
  • Diesel-powered vehicles** with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 8,500 pounds or fewer.

*In the Medford area, hybrids 20 years old or newer require emissions testing. In the Portland area, hybrids with model-year 1975 and newer require emissions testing.

**This only applies to diesel vehicles that are 20 years old or newer.

For full details on Oregon emissions tests, visit the VIP page or our section on OR vehicle emissions and inspections.

Emissions Test Exemptions

If your vehicle is registered outside the DEQ program boundaries mentioned above, you are off the hook for an emissions test. Oregon also exempts the following fuel-efficient vehicles:

  • Fully electric vehicles.
  • Low-speed vehicles.

In some cases, you need to return a completed Declaration of Exemption form to the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division (DMV) when you renew your vehicle registration. Download the form online or request one by calling the DEQ at (971) 673-1630 or (877) 476-0583 (toll free).

For more on money-saving perks such as emissions test exemptions, check out our page on green driver incentives.

OR Electric Car and Hybrid Vehicle Registration

Typically, the OR DMV requires vehicle registration for electric and hybrid vehicles on a biennial basis. However, certain electric and hybrid vehicles, such as commercial buses and those registered as farm vehicles, must undergo annual registration renewal. For specifics, refer to Oregon Revised Statutes 803.415.

Again, fully electric vehicles are not subject to DEQ emissions testing. Plus, electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrids are exempt from OR’s low-emissions vehicle (LEV) requirements.

Find out more on vehicle registration requirements and fees through the Oregon DMV’s resource specific to electric cars and hybrid vehicles.

Oregon Fuel License Fees and Excise Tax Rates

Drivers in Oregon partially compensate the State for highway use by way of a $.30 per gallon excise tax. This applies to natural gas and propane, as well. Read on for info on annual fuel fees and excise tax rates.

Annual Special Use Fuel License Fees

By July 1, 2015, OR may enlist an annual special use fuel license fee in lieu of the $.30 per gallon tax.

Calculate the fee by multiplying the base amounts listed below (according to combined vehicle weight in pounds) by the current tax rate, divided by 12:

  • Zero to 10,000 pounds—$60 base amount.
  • 10,001 to 26,000 pounds—$300 base amount.
  • 26,000 pounds or more—$400 base amount.

For more on excise taxes and rates refer to Oregon Revised Statutes 319.

Excise Tax Rates for CNG and Propane

Oregon imposes the state fuel excise tax for the following fuel types at the same rate as a gallon of liquid fuel:

  • Compressed natural gas (CNG)—120 cubic feet, measured at 14.73 pounds per square inch of pressure at 60 Fahrenheit.
  • Propane—1.3 liquid gallons at 60 Fahrenheit.

Refer to Oregon Revised Statutes 319.530 for specifics.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station Installation—Planned Communities

As the owner of a lot or condominium within a planned community, you may install an EV charging station for personal use in a parking space, lot, or area designated for your exclusive use. However, you must first apply to your homeowners association (HOA). By law, homeowners associations cannot prohibit the installation of an electric vehicle charging station, as long as it complies with applicable requirements.

If you comply (or agree to comply) with the requirements of Oregon Statutes 94.762, your HOA must approve your completed application within 60 days of submission, unless it reasonably requests additional info that delays approval.

In addition to being financially responsible for all costs associated with the installation and use of your EV charging station, you must also cover electricity expenses and any costs related to the damage of common property. Numerous restrictions apply. Therefore, comb through Oregon Statutes 94.762, and refer to the Alternative Fuels Data Center for specifics. Also, check out the Oregon Smart Guide for at-home electric vehicle charging.

OR Road Restrictions for Low- and Medium-Speed Electric Vehicles

The State prohibits the operation of low-speed electric vehicles and medium-speed electric vehicles on Oregon streets or highways that have a speed limit greater than 35 and 45 miles per hour (mph), respectively. Doing so (and getting caught) can land you a Class B traffic violation.

However, Oregon’s cities and counties may adopt an ordinance that permits these particular EVs on city streets or county roads with speed limits higher than the respective maximum speed limits mentioned above.

Oregon defines these electric vehicles as:

Low-speed electrical vehicle—A four-wheeled motor vehicle with a top speed greater than 20 miler per hour, but fewer than 25 mph.

Medium-speed electric vehicle—A four-wheeled electric motor vehicle that:

  • Is equipped with a roll cage or crushproof body design,
  • Can reach a maximum speed of 35 mph on a paved, level surface,
  • Is fully enclosed,
  • And has at least one door for entry.

For more on these restrictions, definitions, certification, and registration and titling requirements, visit the Oregon DMV's dedicated pages on low-speed and medium-speed electric vehicles.

Oregon Commercial Vehicle Idling Restrictions

Oregon prohibits drivers from idling the primary engine of a commercial vehicle on any premises open to the public for more than 5 minutes per continuous 60-minute period, unless:

  • Using an auxiliary power unit (APU), generator set, or other idle reduction technology for heating, air conditioning, or providing electricity.
  • Operating a cargo temperature control unit for cargo maintenance.

Idling a commercial vehicle could result in a Class C traffic violation. However, numerous exceptions exist when it’s necessary to idle your commercial vehicle’s primary engine. For example, sitting in heavy traffic, that you have no control over, won’t get you traffic ticket for idling. For a full list of exemptions, refer to Oregon Revised Statutes 825.610. For penalty details, consult Oregon Revised Statutes 826.605.

Keep Up with the Latest Oregon Green Vehicle Laws

Keep in mind these green vehicle laws and related eco-friendly driver incentives are ever-evolving. Stay on top of the latest regulations by also checking in with your local Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division (DMV) branch and the Oregon Department of Energy.

Find a Nearby Oregon Emissions Testing Station

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