Oregon DUII Law
Driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) is a serious criminal offense in Oregon.
What to Know About Oregon DUII Law
Driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) is a serious criminal offense in Oregon. Many people are aware that drunk driving can result in a DUII charge, but there are several other ways to commit this crime in Oregon, and the penalties for a conviction vary. In this article, we’ll explore the different ways to commit the crime of DUII in Oregon and the potential consequences of a conviction, and what makes a DUII a misdemeanor vs. a felony.
Jump to misdemeanor vs. felony
The most common way to commit a DUII in Oregon is by driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher. This means that if you are caught driving with a BAC over the legal limit, you can be charged with a DUII. However, even if you have a BAC under .08%, you could still be found guilty of DUII if a jury determines that your driving was impaired by alcohol to a noticeable and perceptible degree. Further, even if at the time of driving you had recently consumed alcohol and were not yet feeling its effects, you could still be charged with DUII. Oregon law further states that if you provide a BAC test within two hours of being stopped, and you provide a sample with a BAC over .08%, that is enough to charge you with DUII.
In addition to alcohol, it is illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis in Oregon. Since the use of recreational cannabis was legalized in Oregon, cannabis DUIIs are increasingly more common. However, the procedures used by law enforcement and the Oregon State Crime Lab can be called into question at trial, especially because the crime lab chooses not to test for the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Because of these weaknesses in the investigative process for cannabis DUIIs, having an experienced attorney represent you on a cannabis DUII is crucial to your success.
Drug or Controlled Substance DUII
It’s important to note that you can also be charged with a DUII in Oregon if you are under the influence of any controlled substance. This means that you can be charged with DUII for being under the influence of illegal drugs, like street fentanyl, methamphetamine, or heroin as well as prescription drugs. Some common prescription drugs that should not be used while driving include opioids, like oxycodone or hydrocodone; benzodiazepines, like Valium or Xanax; stimulants, like Adderall or Ritalin; antidepressants, like Prozac or Zoloft; muscle relaxants, like Soma or Flexeril, and so many others. Drug DUIIs can be further complicated when a prescription drug is mixed with other prescription drugs or alcohol. Our attorneys have participated in training courses with former law enforcement officers and lab experts to know how law enforcement investigates drug DUIIs and how to defend these complicated cases.
Commercial Driver DUII
If you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the legal BAC limit is lower than that of non-commercial drivers. In Oregon, the legal BAC limit for CDL holders is .04%. If you are caught driving with a BAC over this limit, you can be charged with a CDL-related DUII. Commercial drivers are not eligible for the DUII Diversion Program in Oregon, so hiring an experienced DUII attorney is especially crucial for commercial drivers.
For individuals under the age of 21, the legal BAC limit is .00% in Oregon. This means that even a small amount of alcohol can result in a DUII charge. If you are under the legal drinking age and are caught driving with any amount of alcohol in your system, you can be charged with DUII and face the same penalties as an adult, even though your BAC was under a .08%.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony
In Oregon, a DUII charge can either be a Class A misdemeanor or it can be a Class C felony. The classification is based entirely on the driver’s criminal history.
As a Class A misdemeanor, a DUII is punishable by up to 364 days in the county jail and a fine of up to $6,250. The fine can be increased to $10,000 if the driver had a minor in the vehicle and the minor was at least 3 years younger than the driver. As a Class C felony, a DUII is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $125,000.
A first-time DUII driver will be charged with misdemeanor DUII, regardless of whether the DUII involved only the driver, a single-car crash, a multi-car crash, or even if someone was injured. When an individual is injured in a DUII wreck, then the more serious charge they driver could face is an Assault charge (which, depending on the injury, could be a felony). Note: Oregon does not have a separate offense for vehicular assault.
Further, second-time DUII drivers will be charged with misdemeanor DUII as well, but the consequences of the conviction are more severe. Prosecutors in Salem often recommend that a second-time DUII driver serve a jail sentence while also being placed on probation for 18 months to 5 years, although that is not a hard-set rule.
If a driver has two prior DUII convictions, but they were not in the past 10 years, and they have never been convicted of a felony DUII, then the driver will be charged with misdemeanor DUII. Prosecutors will often seek lengthy jail sentences for these repeat DUII offenses, with recommendations occasionally reaching the full 364 day-maximum. Any third DUII conviction, regardless of whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony, will result in permanent revocation of the person’s driving privileges.
If a person has two prior DUII convictions in the past 10 years, or the person has ever been convicted of a felony DUII, then the person will be charged with felony DUII. Oregon law requires a minimum 90-day jail sentence for a DUII conviction, and those 90 days cannot be reduced by jail or prison policies. As mentioned above, conviction of a felony DUII will result in permanent revocation of the person’s driving privileges.
Permanent Revocation Note: There is a process to restore a permanently revoked driver’s license after a minimum 10-year wait period. To learn about restoration of permanently revoked driving privileges, click here.
As you can see, there are several ways to commit the crime of DUII in Oregon. These include alcohol DUIIs, cannabis DUIIs, drug or controlled substance DUIIs, commercial driver DUIIs, and minor DUIIs. If you are facing a DUII charge, contact our office to learn how our attorneys can help you face your DUII charge.
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