In most parts of the country Americans are accustomed to pumping their own gas. Many people have never used or even seen a full-service gas station, but there are two states where they are not just commonplace – they’re required by law.
New Jersey and Oregon both have laws on the books which bar your average motorist from pumping their own gas at stations. It can come as a bit of a shock to those driving through from out of state when pulling up to a gas station and getting out of the car only to find a station employee running up over to wrest the nozzle away, but these laws have been on the books for over half a century.
While New Jersey has occasionally seen challenges to this law and considered changes, Oregon has enacted a few changes as of the first day of 2018.
The law previously allowed gas stations to permit self-service pumping between the hours of 6pm and 6am, but only in counties where the population was less than 40,000 and still required the station to provide mandatory full-service pumping during the other 12 hours of the day. The main thrust of the law change was two-fold: it eliminated the 12-hour restriction on self-service hours, and it changed which counties were eligible by stating only those in Eastern Oregon* are allowed to permit self-sevice.
So, previously in Oregon you could only pump your own gas in small counties and only between 6pm and 6am, at the gas station’s discretion. Now, gas stations in Eastern Oregon’s small counties may at their discretion allow self-service pumping 24/7. If a gas station has an attached convenience store, the law requires them to continue offering full-service pumping between the hours of 6am and 6pm, but does not mandate that station attendants do the pumping.
Regardless of how you feel about this change, if you travel through rural Eastern Oregon make sure to keep an eye out to see whether that gas station you’re pulling up to is full- or self-serve and save yourself the confusion of wondering whether someone will be coming to help, or whether that attendant heading your way can be dismissed if you prefer to pump your own fuel.
*defined by the law as “lying east of a line beginning at the intersection of the northern boundary of this state and the western boundary of Hood River County, and from there proceeding southerly along the western boundaries of Hood River, Wasco, Jefferson, Deschutes and Klamath Counties to the southern boundary of this state.”