In Oregon, as in most states, drunk/drugged driving is a crime, and criminal penalties apply to those convicted of the offense. California calls it driving under the influence (DUI); Texas terms it driving while intoxicated (DWI); and Iowa uses the name operating while intoxicated (OWI). But under Oregon law, the violation is known as driving under the influence of intoxicants, or DUII.
Generally, the sanctions increase for repeat offenses, so it's no surprise that a driver convicted of a second DUII offence in Oregon will face somewhat harsher consequences than they did the first time. Anyone driving in Oregon should understand the laws about driving under the influence of intoxicants and the potential penalties for conviction.
Basics of Oregon DUII Laws
Any driver who has already been convicted of one DUII violation in the state of Oregon is likely familiar with the basics of the law about driving under the influence of intoxicants. This law, found at Chapter 813 of the Oregon Revised Statutes, makes it a crime for anyone to drive a vehicle on the state's public roads while they are under the influence of an intoxicating substance or while they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or above. "Vehicle" in Oregon includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, electric bicycles and motorized wheelchairs, as well as regular bicycles.
There are two separate grounds for an Oregon DUII offense. The ground of "under the influence" means that the person's mental or physical faculties are adversely affected to a noticeable or perceptible degree as a result of ingesting drugs, inhalants and/or alcohol. No particular blood alcohol concentration level is required to show alcohol impairment; impairment by alcohol, drugs or inhalants is usually shown by testimony by law enforcement.
On the other hand, a violation based on a BAC test result of 0.08 percent or above requires no other evidence of impairment. Even if the driver seems perfectly sober, a chemical test showing a BAC level above the legal limit is sufficient for a DUII conviction.
Chemical Testing and BAC Limits
When chemical tests that could measure a person's blood alcohol level were developed, it changed drunk driving laws across the country. States once had to present evidence of impairment in every case, but by setting a BAC limit, prosecution became easier. Like other states, Oregon enacted an implied consent law that makes "deemed consent" to chemical testing part of the price an Oregon driver pays to drive on the state's roads. Refusal to take a test results in the administrative penalty of license revocation.
Testing over the legal BAC limit of 0.08 percent for regular drivers or 0.04 percent for commercial drivers results in both administrative penalties and criminal penalties in Oregon. A driver who tests 0.15 percent or higher faces aggravated DUII charges.
In Oregon, the police generally use the breath test to determine blood alcohol concentration. If the driver was involved in an accident and then taken to a hospital, law enforcement will check their BAC level by a blood sample administered by medical personnel. While there is no legal limit for drugs in a driver's system, both blood and urine tests are used to determine the type and amount of controlled substances or inhalants used. This can be part of the evidence a prosecutor uses in a drug DUII charge.
Second Offense DUIIs
A second offense DUII in Oregon is a Class A misdemeanor, the less serious type of crime (as opposed to a felony). Figuring out whether an arrest is for a second DUII is more complicated than it seems. First, the look-back period for second offenses is five years. So, if a driver was charged with a DUII six years before their second arrest, the second arrest is treated as a first offense.
In addition, a driver facing a first DUII charge has the option to petition for a diversion program. In Oregon, a driver's case is put on hold while they work through a year-long program of substance abuse education and safe driving. If they complete the diversion program successfully, their first conviction turns into a diversion, and the second arrest is considered a first offense.
Administrative Penalties for Second DUIIs
The initial penalties a driver faces for a second DUII don't come from the courts, but from the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Service (DMV). Soon after the arrest, the DMV uses its administrative powers to suspend the license of a driver arrested for a DUII in two circumstances: 1) if the driver refuses to take a chemical test to determine their BAC level (breath, blood or urine test) and 2) if the driver takes the test and fails it. Note that this suspension is separate from any criminal penalty license suspension.
If a driver is stopped for a DUII and has a prior conviction for DUII within the five previous years, the administrative penalties for refusing the chemical test are severe. The DMV will suspend their driver's license for three years. If the driver takes a chemical test and fails it – that is, the test shows a BAC level above the legal limit – the administrative suspension will be for one year if the driver was either convicted of a DUII, had a license suspension for refusal to take a test, or participated in a DUII diversion in the prior five years.
A driver who believes they were wrongly accused of a DUII or a refusal to take the chemical test can ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge. They must meet strict time deadlines to do this, however. If they petition timely and win, their driving privileges will be restored until the criminal DUII trial.
Criminal Penalties for Second DUII
The state can prosecute a driver for a DUII whether or not they take the chemical test since a prosecutor can bring charges on impairment or on the BAC level. For a second offense DUII, a driver can expect jail time, probation, a license suspension and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, as well as mandatory attendance at substance abuse classes.
The maximum imprisonment penalty for a second DUII is the same as for a first: one year in jail. However, the minimum penalty for a second offense is eight days instead of four, and it is generally followed by between two and three years on probation. The driver will also face criminal fines of between $1,500 and $3,500 and will be required to pay court costs.
Since Oregon tries to help drivers as well as punish them, it imposes a requirement that a second offender attend a mandatory substance abuse treatment program and also participate in a victims impact panel session.
Requirement for an Ignition Interlock Device
If and when the individual is permitted to drive again, they are required to install a machine called an ignition interlock device, or IID, in every vehicle they own or drive regularly. This device operates like a built-in breathalyzer; it prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver has alcohol in their system. Use of an ignition interlock device is required for two years following the license suspension period for second-time offenders.
Any grant of a hardship permit or license will be conditioned on proof of IID installation. The driver must pay for the IID installation, as well as for maintenance fees.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.