We can all agree drunk or impaired driving is wrong. However, two large pillars of American society and culture are alcohol and driving. As a result, the motor-vehicle offense of Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (ORS Chapter 813) is a crime that is charged every day in our community. People from all walks of life are charged with this crime, and chances are, you know somebody who has been arrested or maybe even convicted for DUII.
DUII arrests can take a variety of forms: from an individual pulled over for a minor traffic infraction admitting to having a couple of beers, to an all-out fatalistic traffic accident. Every DUII case demands individual attention and analysis to ensure the government is held accountable for what they have alleged. If you have been charged with DUII it is important that you talk with an experienced attorney to ensure your case is properly resolved.
I’ve Been Charged with DUII in Oregon, What Will Happen to Me?
A DUII conviction can have very serious consequences. A conviction is met with a mandatory driver’s license suspension of at least one year, a fine of at least $1,000.00 plus other court fees, referrals to a drug and alcohol assessment and treatment, an obligation to attend a Victim Impact Program ($40 or $50), a period of probation and a requirement to install an Ignition Interlock Device (blower) on any vehicle driven by the defendant, and a minimum of 2 days jail or 80 hours of community service or a maximum of one year jail and a fine of $6,250 (if charged as a felony DUII an individual could potentially face more than one year jail.)
Whether it’s a license suspension or heavy fines and fees, a DUII will impact your life. It is vital to fully understand the mechanics of your case and the evidence presented against you to ensure you make the appropriate decision if you are ever confronted with this charge.
Some individuals may be eligible for Oregon’s DUII Diversion Program, which, if completed successfully, may result in the charge being dismissed. Before you enter into such a program, it is important to have your case reviewed by an experienced attorney. While diversion may feel like a good deal, it requires costly and timely obligations. It is therefore important to fully understand and complete your diversion obligations. Non-compliance with the diversion agreement may result in a conviction—without the opportunity to contest the charge with a trial. Generally, if someone has a Commercial Drivers License, has been convicted of a prior DUII offense or participated in a prior diversion program within 15 years of the currently charged offense, they are not diversion-eligible and face a potential DUII conviction.
DMV Hearings (Implied Consent Hearings)
It is important to note that if you submit to a chemical breath test and the result is .08% or above or if you refuse to take the breath test, a separate administrative proceeding is initiated to determine the validity of the driver’s license suspension associated with the alleged failed or refused breath test. The administrative hearing to contest this suspension must be requested within 10 days from the date you were arrested. This hearing is on the record, and may provide pivotal clues to your case. For one, it gives us an opportunity to cross-examine the arresting officer, along with any assisting law enforcement. Information gained from the hearing can be a valuable tool when analyzing a case, especially when we are proceeding to trial.
Recent Efforts to ‘Crack Down’
A quick review of recent legislative bills or weekly stories in the local news makes it clear that legislatures and law enforcement throughout the country have made DUIIs a high priority. From our Legislature, recent bills and laws have enhanced fines and penalties associated with DUII and created new and more difficult conditions of DUII probations and diversions. These bills are politically popular and can curry political favor from powerful interest groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving or Crime Victims United.
Likewise, law enforcement has increased its emphasis on DUII with saturation patrols on party nights (i.e. Halloween, New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl etc.) or “No Blow Weekends” in which personnel are staffed to obtain search warrants for “blood draws” if an individual refuses to take the breath test. These campaigns have such names as “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” Officers have been incentivized to write tickets with career-building awards such as the “DUII Enforcement Officer of the Year Award.” http://www.kezi.com/officer-honored-for-duii-prevention/
Unfortunately, these efforts have been somewhat ineffective in preventing the offense of DUII. For example, in Eugene, DUII offenses actually increased by 16% between 2011 and 2012. What our community is left with is the same problem, while the alleged offenders are faced with very serious penalties—from stiff fines and fees to drug and alcohol treatment to mandatory jail or prison.
Generally, the offense of DUII is a Class A Misdemeanor in Oregon and is punishable with up to one year in jail. The consequences for a conviction can be harsh, especially if you have had prior DUII arrests. Under certain circumstances, a DUII may be charged as a felony and carry even heavier potential consequences upon conviction. If you are charged with a DUII you have a constitutional right to a jury trial and it is the government’s burden to prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that you committed the offense as alleged. Contact us to discuss how we can attack the government’s case at trial or present a defense to the crime as charged.