There are two ways to prove that someone is under the influence of intoxicants for purposes of Oregon’s DUII (Driving Under the Influence, DUI, DWI or more commonly called “drunk driving”) law. The first is where the state presents evidence that the individual is adversely affected to a noticeable or a perceptible degree by the use of intoxicants. And intoxicants can mean either intoxicating liquor or a controlled substance or a combination of intoxicating liquor / alcohol and a controlled substance. The controlled substance does not have to be an illegal substance, it can be a prescription medication. (I should point out that an argument has been made, in one case successfully, that a validly prescribed medication cannot be used as the basis for a DUII; however, one should not expect that decision by that one particular Oregon judge would be followed by any other judges in Oregon).
If Oregon wants to establish that someone is negatively affected by the use of intoxicants, they typically use audio and video recordings of the individual charged, as well as officer testimony concerning observations and the officer’s opinion of how the driver performed on what are called standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs), which would include a walk and turn test, a one-leg stand test and what is called a “horizontal gaze nystagmus test” or “HGN” for short.
The other way that the state can establish that someone is under the influence of intoxicants is to establish that the person’s blood alcohol level (BAC) was .08% or higher at the time of the driving. This is most typically presented as evidence by way of documentation from an Intoxylizer 8000 machine which tests an amount of the person’s breath and then makes a correlation as to what the individual’s blood alcohol level was at the time of the test. Occasionally, there will be a circumstance where the state will actually use a blood test. A blood test is usually used if an officer obtains a warrant to draw blood from someone who will not agree to blow into an breath test machine or provide an intoxylizer sample. And also can be presented in a case where the individual was hospitalized and is in a medical facility where blood was drawn for either law enforcement purposes or medical purposes. In summary, the two ways the state can attempt to establish if someone is under the influence of intoxicants is if they are adversely affected to a noticeable or perceptible degree or their blood alcohol level is .08% or higher at the time of the driving.
The defense of a DUII case can be quite complex. The Duvall Law Office represents individuals charged with DUII throughtout Oregon, particularly in Lane County Oregon which would include the courts of Lane County Circuit Court, Springfield Municipal Court, Eugene Municipal Court, Junction City Municipal Court, Cottage Grove Municipal Court. Please contact the office at 541-345-4500 if you would like to schedule an appointment.