This process is complaint-driven and administered by the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC). All penalties provided under this law are set forth in ORS 757.993. All civil penalties collected by the OPUC for violations of the excavation laws are sent to the OUNC for deposit in the Publicity and Education Fund.
The complaint process is initiated by a Request for Administrative Action (RAA). The RAA form provides the mechanism for reporting probable violations of the Oregon excavation laws. The RAA form and an accompanying cover letter explaining its use are available online at www.digsafelyoregon.com or from the One Call Center at (503) 232-1987.
Oregon law provides that a violation of any rule of the OUNC shall incur a penalty of not more than $1,000 for the first violation and not more than $5,000 for each subsequent violation. In addition to all other penalties provided by law, every person who intentionally violates or who intentionally procures, aids or abets in the violation of any rule of the OUNC shall incur a penalty of not more than $5,000 for the first violation and not more than $10,000 for each subsequent violation.
After the RAA form is completely filled out, it must be sent back to the One Call Center for the background research necessary for the OPUC to determine if further action is appropriate. If further action is indicated, the process can involve up to three distinct steps:
- OPUC staff will contact the person named in the RAA and discuss the probable violation(s). First offense violations carry a civil penalty of up to $1,000 but may be reduced depending on the circumstances involved. If the penalty is reduced, there will be a requirement for additional training on the excavation laws, and the portion of the penalty waived will be held in abeyance for a period of one year. If no further violations are committed, the record will be cleared. If another violation is committed within the year of probation, and proved, the waived amount becomes due and payable in addition to civil penalties imposed for the current violation.
- The OPUC has established an Enforcement Committee that provides an informal setting for both sides of a dispute to discuss the issues. The Enforcement Committee is made up of representatives from the following: The Oregon Utility Notification Center Board of Directors, the Oregon Utility Coordinating Council, the Construction Contractors Licensing Board, the insurance industry. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Enforcement Committee will apprise the violator of their findings and recommendations for resolution of the RAA. If there is an agreement, the recommendation will be forwarded to the OPUC for final action. The Enforcement Committee recommendation is advisory only, and is not binding on the OPUC (In the majority of cases, the OPUC has accepted the Enforcement Committee recommendations).
- If a resolution cannot be reached through either of the first two steps, the RAA will be processed as a formal hearing before an OPUC Administrative Law Judge in accordance with established hearing procedures found under ORS 756.500 to 756.610. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will make a ruling, and a formal OPUC Order will be issued. The violator may pursue an appeal of the formal OPUC Order to the Circuit Court for Marion County for final disposition.