DUI Laws in Oregon

This article provides a comprehensive overview of Oregon's DUII laws, penalties, and legal procedures.

Driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) is a serious offense in Oregon, carrying significant legal consequences. This article provides a comprehensive overview of Oregon's DUII laws, penalties, and legal procedures. It aims to inform the public and improve access to justice by detailing the intricacies of DUII regulations in the state.

Overview of DUII Laws in Oregon

Definition of DUII

In Oregon, DUII stands for "Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants." According to Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 813.010, a person commits the offense of DUII if they drive a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a controlled substance, or inhalants. The legal threshold for blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% for most drivers, 0.04% for commercial drivers, and any detectable amount for drivers under 21 years old.

The primary statute governing DUII offenses in Oregon is ORS 813.010. This law outlines the conditions under which a person can be charged with DUII and the associated penalties. The statute can be accessed here.

Oregon's implied consent law, found in ORS 813.100, mandates that any person who operates a vehicle on public roads consents to a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine) if lawfully arrested for DUII. Refusal to take the test results in an automatic license suspension and other penalties.

Penalties for DUII in Oregon

First Offense

A first-time DUII offense in Oregon carries the following penalties:

  • Fines: A minimum fine of $1,000, which can increase to $2,000 if the BAC is 0.15% or higher.
  • License Suspension: A suspension of driving privileges for one year.
  • Jail Time: A minimum of 48 hours in jail or 80 hours of community service.
  • Probation: Up to two years of probation.
  • Alcohol Education Program: Mandatory participation in an alcohol or drug abuse assessment and treatment program.

Second Offense

For a second DUII offense within five years, the penalties are more severe:

  • Fines: A minimum fine of $1,500.
  • License Suspension: A three-year suspension of driving privileges.
  • Jail Time: A minimum of 48 hours in jail or 80 hours of community service.
  • Probation: Up to five years of probation.
  • Alcohol Education Program: Mandatory participation in an alcohol or drug abuse assessment and treatment program.

Third and Subsequent Offenses

A third DUII offense within ten years is classified as a Class C felony:

  • Fines: A minimum fine of $2,000.
  • License Revocation: Permanent revocation of driving privileges.
  • Jail Time: A minimum of 90 days in jail.
  • Probation: Up to five years of probation.
  • Alcohol Education Program: Mandatory participation in an alcohol or drug abuse assessment and treatment program.

Enhanced Penalties

Enhanced penalties apply in certain circumstances, such as:

  • High BAC: A BAC of 0.15% or higher results in increased fines.
  • Minor in Vehicle: Having a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense can lead to additional charges of child endangerment.
  • Accidents and Injuries: DUII offenses involving accidents, injuries, or fatalities result in more severe penalties, including longer jail sentences and higher fines.

Traffic Stop and Arrest

A DUII investigation typically begins with a traffic stop. Law enforcement officers may stop a vehicle if they observe erratic driving, traffic violations, or other suspicious behavior. During the stop, officers may conduct field sobriety tests and request a breathalyzer test.

Chemical Testing

Under Oregon's implied consent law, drivers are required to submit to chemical testing if arrested for DUII. Refusal to take the test results in an automatic license suspension and may be used as evidence in court.

Arraignment

After arrest, the defendant will be arraigned in court, where they will be formally charged with DUII and informed of their rights. The defendant may enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

Pre-Trial Proceedings

Pre-trial proceedings may include motions to suppress evidence, plea negotiations, and discovery. The defense and prosecution will exchange evidence and may negotiate a plea agreement.

Trial

If the case goes to trial, both sides will present evidence and arguments. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was driving under the influence. The defense may challenge the validity of the traffic stop, the accuracy of chemical tests, and other aspects of the prosecution's case.

Sentencing

If the defendant is found guilty, the court will impose a sentence based on Oregon's DUII laws and the specific circumstances of the case. Sentencing may include fines, jail time, probation, license suspension, and mandatory participation in an alcohol or drug treatment program.

Diversion Program

Eligibility

Oregon offers a DUII diversion program for first-time offenders. To be eligible, the defendant must:

  • Have no prior DUII convictions within the past 15 years.
  • Not have participated in a DUII diversion program within the past 15 years.
  • Not have caused injury or death to another person as a result of the DUII offense.

Program Requirements

Participants in the diversion program must:

  • Plead guilty or no contest to the DUII charge.
  • Complete an alcohol or drug abuse assessment and treatment program.
  • Attend a victim impact panel.
  • Abstain from alcohol and drugs during the program period.
  • Install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.

Successful Completion

Upon successful completion of the diversion program, the DUII charge will be dismissed. However, failure to comply with program requirements will result in the reinstatement of the original DUII charge and associated penalties.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Requirements

Oregon law requires the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for certain DUII offenders. An IID is a breathalyzer device connected to the vehicle's ignition system, preventing the vehicle from starting if the driver's BAC exceeds a preset limit.

Duration

The duration of the IID requirement varies based on the offense:

  • First Offense: One year.
  • Second Offense: Two years.
  • Third and Subsequent Offenses: Five years.

Costs

Offenders are responsible for the costs associated with the installation, maintenance, and monitoring of the IID. Financial assistance may be available for those who cannot afford the costs.

DUII and Commercial Drivers

Lower BAC Threshold

Commercial drivers in Oregon are subject to a lower BAC threshold of 0.04%. A DUII conviction for a commercial driver can result in the suspension or revocation of their commercial driver's license (CDL).

Penalties

Penalties for commercial drivers convicted of DUII include:

  • First Offense: One-year suspension of CDL.
  • Second Offense: Lifetime revocation of CDL.

Impact on Employment

A DUII conviction can have serious consequences for commercial drivers, including job loss and difficulty finding future employment in the transportation industry.

DUII and Underage Drivers

Zero Tolerance Policy

Oregon has a zero tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21. Any detectable amount of alcohol in the system of an underage driver can result in a DUII charge.

Penalties

Penalties for underage DUII offenders include:

  • Fines: A minimum fine of $1,000.
  • License Suspension: A suspension of driving privileges for one year.
  • Alcohol Education Program: Mandatory participation in an alcohol or drug abuse assessment and treatment program.

DUII and Drug Impairment

Controlled Substances

Driving under the influence of controlled substances, including prescription medications and illegal drugs, is prohibited under Oregon law. The penalties for drug-impaired driving are similar to those for alcohol-impaired driving.

Drug Recognition Experts

Oregon employs Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) to identify drivers impaired by drugs. DREs are specially trained law enforcement officers who conduct evaluations to determine the presence and type of drugs in a driver's system.

DUII and Inhalants

Definition

Inhalants are substances that produce chemical vapors, which can be inhaled to induce a psychoactive effect. Common inhalants include household products such as glue, paint, and cleaning solvents.

Penalties

Driving under the influence of inhalants is treated similarly to other forms of DUII in Oregon. Penalties include fines, license suspension, jail time, probation, and mandatory participation in an alcohol or drug treatment program.

Challenging the Traffic Stop

One common defense is to challenge the legality of the traffic stop. If the stop was conducted without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, any evidence obtained during the stop may be suppressed.

Questioning the Accuracy of Chemical Tests

The accuracy of breath, blood, and urine tests can be challenged based on factors such as improper calibration of testing equipment, improper administration of the test, or contamination of the sample.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or acid reflux, can produce symptoms or chemical test results that mimic intoxication. These conditions can be used as a defense in a DUII case.

Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are subjective and can be influenced by factors such as fatigue, nervousness, or physical disabilities. The reliability of these tests can be challenged in court.

Conclusion

Understanding Oregon's DUII laws is crucial for drivers in the state. The penalties for DUII offenses are severe and can have long-lasting consequences. By being informed about the legal framework, penalties, and legal defenses, individuals can better navigate the complexities of DUII charges and improve their access to justice.

For more information on Oregon's DUII laws, visit the Oregon State Bar and the Oregon Legislature websites.

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