Self-Serve Gas Begins in Oregon With Conditions

SALEM, Ore. — A new law allowing drivers to fill up their vehicles on a self-serve basis went into effect Jan. 1 in Oregon counties with populations of 40,000 or lower. The rule is in effect for the time period of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., when consumers can fuel up without an employee’s help.

The legislation, sponsored by State Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) and Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day), is intended to make it easier for Oregon drivers to fuel up their cars during after-hours periods in rural stretches of the state, particularly the Southeastern region. According to Hood River News, drivers can become stranded if no gas stations are open at night.

The Oregon Senate passed the bill by a vote of 25-5 and Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill into law in June.

The legislation also calls for the ability for new areas to be added to the legislation if a county “ceases to be a low-population county on or after the effective date of the law.”

However, the transition to the new law is not immediate, with some gas station operators choosing to stick with the employee-only tradition, while others are still considering a change.

Even for gas stations that do choose to institute self-service at the pump during nighttime and early morning hours, the transition could take time. Operating systems must be updated to allow customers to fill up on their own during the 12-hour period, which may require the assistance of a software technician, the news outlet reported.

Oregon legislators passed a self-serve gas ban in 1951, with the intention of preventing consumers from handling “Class 1 flammable fuels,” as well as protecting the elderly from exiting their car to pump gas due to Oregon’s “uniquely adverse” weather.

New Jersey is the only other state to have a self-serve fueling ban.