Oregon DUII Explained
Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants, or DUII, is perhaps the crime most frequently committed by the average person. It is also one of the most misunderstood. Only after a person has driven home after a few drinks with friends or associates and gets arrested does he or she come to understand just how dramatically a DUII charge can affect one’s life.
1: THE LEGAL LIMIT — Not As Simple As .08%
There are two ways a person is considered under the influence of intoxicants in Oregon. First, one is considered under the influence of intoxicants if his or her blood alcohol content is .08% or greater. However, there is a second way one is considered under the influence. A person is considered under the influence of intoxicants if any one of his or her mental or physical abilities is adversely affected by intoxicants to a perceptible degree, regardless of the person’s blood alcohol content. A person can be guilty of DUII with a blood alcohol content of .07, .06 or even .05%! Oregon’s law is very close to a zero tolerance standard.
2: TWO PROBLEMS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
Most DUII cases involve two governmental entities pursuing action against the accused: 1) The DMV; and 2) The prosecutor in court.
If one blows a .08% or greater, DMV will seek a driver’s license (Implied Consent) suspension of 90 days to one year; or, if one refuses a breath or blood test, a one to three year suspension. This DMV action is completely separate from the action in court which can also result in a suspension.
3: THE FOUR POISON PILLS
If a person is convicted of DUII, every court in Oregon must impose at least these four consequences: 1) Two days of jail or 80 hours of community service; 2) A $1,000 fine; 3) That one pay for and complete an alcohol treatment program; and 4) A one year driver’s license suspension (a separate suspension from the DMV Implied Consent suspension mentioned above).
4: THE GOOD NEWS — Diversion
A person charged with DUII may be eligible for Oregon’s DUII diversion program. Generally one qualifies* if: 1) he or she has not had a DUII within the past fifteen years; 2) the presently charged DUII did not involve an accident in which anyone but the person accused was injured; and 3) the person did not have a commercial driver’s license (even if that person was not operating a commercial motor vehicle at the time). If the court allows one into the DUII diversion program, the court then places the criminal case in abeyance. If the person then pays for and completes an alcohol or drug treatment program and stays out of similar trouble for one year, the court then dismisses the criminal case. So, the DUII diversion program is like doing one-fourth of the minimum penalty, while getting the case dismissed as a bonus. *Other conditions apply; eligibility is controlled by Oregon Revised Statute 813.215.
5: THE BAD NEWS — Blackout Periods
All DMV Implied Consent Suspensions have a period where absolutely no driving is allowed — not even with a hardship or occupational permit. The first time offender who blows .08% or above and is allowed into the DUII diversion program usually still faces a 90 day DMV suspension where no driving is allowed for the first 30 days. This can obviously throw the accused’s life into turmoil. A first time offender who refuses a breath test usually faces a 90 day blackout period. Repeat offenders can face substantially longer blackout periods.
6: THE REALLY BAD NEWS — For Repeat Offenders
Oregon imposes a “permanent” driver’s license revocation on a third or greater DUII conviction — regardless of over how many years those convictions have occurred. A third DUII conviction within a ten year period is a felony. No driving privileges are available for these individuals for at least ten years following such conviction.
7: THE BITTER TRUTH
An urban myth has evolved that if someone charged with DUII has enough money, or the right attorney, then he or she can “beat” the charge. If any truth to this myth exists, it is not in Oregon. Oregon’s DUII laws are some of the toughest in the country. Fighting a DUII charge is virtually always an uphill battle. The least someone can hope to face in court is a police officer willing to testify under oath that in his or her opinion the accused drove under the influence of intoxicants. Anyone knowledgeable about Oregon’s DUII law thinks twice before drinking any amount of alcohol and then driving.
NOTICE: The purpose of this publication is to provide general information about Oregon DUII law, not to provide specific legal advice.