Drinking and driving is known in some states as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). In Oregon, the violation is known as driving under the influence of intoxicants, or DUII. A third DUII violation in Oregon can result in a very serious criminal charge – a felony, but that depends on the timing of the prior convictions. Anyone with multiple DUIIs will want to get a thorough understanding of the law about driving under the influence of intoxicants, including the difference between misdemeanor and felony DUII penalties.
Oregon Driving Under the Influence
Oregon's drunk driving offense is called driving under the influence of intoxicants, or DUII. The statute, found in Chapter 813 of the Oregon Revised Statutes, makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or more, or 0.04 percent for commercial drivers. It is also a violation of 813.010 to drive while under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, an inhalant or a combination of these substances. Being under the influence means having one's physical or mental facilities impaired to a significant degree.
A charge of being under the influence requires evidence of the driver's behavior both in and out of the car to show impairment. However, a charge of exceeding the BAC legal limit does not require this kind of evidence. Instead, proof that a driver took and failed a chemical test is sufficient in and of itself to convict the person of a DUII.
In order to facilitate a determination of the BAC level of a driver suspected of a DUII, Oregon enacted an implied consent law. This law provides that anyone driving in Oregon is deemed to consent to taking a chemical test (breath, urine or blood test) to determine their blood alcohol concentration if stopped for a DUII. The breath test is the one used most frequently in Oregon for alcohol, while urine testing is used to determine the type of drugs in a person's system.
Administrative Penalties for Third DUIIs
The first sanctions that fall on a driver arrested for a third DUII are likely to be administrative penalties. That is, Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services (DMV) enforces the state's implied consent laws. If a driver refuses to take a test, it is a violation of the implied consent laws, and the individual's right to drive will be automatically suspended.
If a driver takes and fails a chemical test, the driver's license is also suspended. This suspension occurs quickly, well before the criminal conviction.
The period of administrative license revocation depends on whether the offense is a first-time offense or a repeat offense. The suspension period for a failed test is either 90 days or one year. The longer period applies if the driver, within five years of the current arrest, got a DUII conviction, participated in a DUII diversion or had their license suspended for a failed chemical test or a refusal to take a test.
Penalties for Refusal to Take a Breath Test
Similarly, the penalties for refusal to take a chemical test are greater if they had a DUII conviction, diversion or lost their driving privileges within five years of the current arrest. If so, the suspension is for three years; if not, one year. There is also a fine of $650 for refusal.
Whether the driver wins or loses their criminal case will not affect the administrative penalties at all. They apply automatically for violation of the implied consent law, not the DUII law.
DUII Criminal Penalties in Oregon
All DUII offenses are crimes in Oregon and those convicted face both administrative and criminal penalties. Like most states, Oregon's less serious crimes fit into the category called misdemeanors, with a lower maximum imprisonment time. Their more serious crimes, including murder, rape and assault, are termed felonies. A felony conviction is a very serious matter and can result in years in state prison as well as the lifetime stigma that can make it harder to get a job, an apartment and even to attend some educational programs.
Anyone convicted of a DUII faces the same range of penalties, including jail/prison time, fines, license suspension and mandatory substance abuse classes and treatment. The penalties go up with multiple offenses, so a first offense carries the least severe sanctions, and sanctions increase for each subsequent offense.
Note that not every arrest results in a conviction. If a driver was allowed a diversion instead of a conviction for a first offense, it is not counted as a conviction. If that happens, a second offense is treated like a first, and the third offense like a second.
Oregon Look-Back Periods
There is also a look-back period of five years for a second offense, meaning that a second DUII arrest that happens more than five years after the first conviction is treated as a first offense. Both are Class A misdemeanors with a maximum jail sentence of one year.
There is a similar look-back period for a third conviction. This is slightly more complicated, but important to understand. For a DUII to count as a third DUII, the driver must have been convicted of at least two prior DUIIs. If either of those two convictions occurred more than 10 years before the third arrest, the current DUII will be charged as a Class A misdemeanor.
If both of the prior convictions occurred within 10 years of the third arrest, the current charge will be the more serious Class C felony. The criminal penalties for this charge are far greater with the maximum imprisonment set at five years.
Criminal Penalties for a Third DUII Charge
If a third DUII is charged as a Class C felony, Oregon law requires the court to sentence the driver to a minimum jail term of at least 90 days. The court can impose a longer sentence of up to five years depending on the circumstances. This type of DUI conviction is known as a Measure 73 DUII.
If a driver is convicted of one Measure 73 DUII, any subsequent DUII will be charged as a class C felony. The imprisonment period is likely to be followed by two years of supervised probation with conditions that include community service and substance abuse counseling.
If a third DUII is a class A misdemeanor, the maximum jail time is a year, and the minimum jail time only 48 hours. However, judges are not typically lenient of third DUII offenders, and the court may well impose more jail time than the minimum.
Fines for a Third Oregon DUII
A driver convicted of a third DUII will also be assessed a fine of between $2,000 and $4,000. If the driver had a minor passenger in the DUII vehicle who was at least three years younger than the driver, the court can impose a fine of up to $10,000. In the case of a third-time offender, the court will also mandate completion of a screening assessment, a substance abuse treatment program and a victim impact panel session.
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.