The state of Oregon calls its drugged/drunk driving laws "driving under the influence of intoxicants" and uses the abbreviation DUII. However, the offense is basically the same as in other states that use the labels DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated); it involves driving a vehicle on public roads while using alcohol or drugs. The penalties can be serious and they increase for repeat offenders. Anyone driving on Oregon roads should get an overview of what is prohibited and the consequences for DUII convictions.
DUIIs in Oregon
|Jail Time||Fines||License Suspension||Ignition interlock device|
2 days to one year
$1,000 to $2,000
required for 1 year
8 to 30 days, maximum of one year
$1,500 to $3,500
1 to 3 years (3 if prior DUII within last 5 years)
required for 2 years
90 days to maximum of 5 years
$2,000 to $4,000
required for 3 years
Laws prohibiting drunk/drugged driving on Oregon roads are found in Chapter 813 of the state codes. Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) Section 813.010 makes it an offense for anyone to drive a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants. The term "vehicle" is broadly defined to include cars, trucks, motorcycles, driving lawn mowers, motorized wheel chairs, scooters, electric bicycles and even pedal bicycles.
A person can be found guilty of a DUII in two instances. First, it is a DUII in Oregon to drive while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or inhalants, or any combination of these substances. Under the influence means that the driver's physical or mental faculties have been significantly impaired by a substance.
Second, under Oregon law it is a DUII to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or above. This is determined by chemical testing, usually with a breathalyzer. The 0.08 percent standard applies to those with regular driver's licenses. Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard and can be charged with DUII with a BAC of 0.04 percent.
Penalties for DUII
If two people get convicted of DUII in Oregon, each may not be sanctioned in the same way because penalties for a DUII offense increase for repeat offenses that occur within a certain time frame.
A first offender gets the least severe punishment, the lowest fine and the shortest time in jail. In addition, a first offender has the option to petition the court to participate in a diversion program. To do that, they initially plead guilty or "no contest" to the charge, but the court puts off sentencing. When the driver successfully completes a one-year DUII diversion program, including substance abuse and driver education classes, the case is dismissed.
A second offense within five years from the first offense is punished more severely than the initial offense, but it is still charged as a misdemeanor, the less serious type of crime in Oregon. However, a third offense within 10 years of the first offense is a felony, a more serious crime, with increased fines and imprisonment time.
Administrative Penalties for DUII
In Oregon, the DUII law is enforced with both administrative penalties and criminal penalties. Administrative penalties are the first to apply. These largely flow from the Oregon Implied Consent law that provides that Oregon drivers are deemed to have consented to taking chemical tests for DUII purposes simply by driving in the state.
Chemical testing includes breath, blood and urine tests. Law enforcement usually uses breath testing for alcohol to determine the driver's BAC level. When drugs are involved, there is no legal BAC limit, but chemical testing does reveal the type and level of drugs in the person's system for an impairment DUII charge.
Penalties for Breath Test Refusal
If a person refuses to submit to a chemical test when requested by law enforcement, administrative penalties apply. Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services (DMV) automatically suspends their driving privileges if they refuse to take a test. A first time refusal incurs a suspension for one year; subsequent refusals incur three-year suspensions. If the driver takes and fails a chemical test (breath, urine or blood test), establishing that the person's BAC is over the legal limit, the administrative suspension is 90 days for a first offense and one year for subsequent offenses.
These driver's license suspensions occur immediately and do not depend on a DUII conviction. Even if no criminal charges are brought, or if the person is found not guilty at trial, the suspensions still apply. A driver can request a hearing before a DMV hearing officer to contest the charges, but the scope of the hearing will be very narrow – the hearing officer will determine only whether all of these elements occurred:
- The arresting officer had probable cause to arrest the driver.
- The officer asked the driver to submit to a chemical test.
- The driver refused after the officer informed them of the penalties for refusal or the driver took and failed the chemical test.
And, it is important to realize that these suspensions apply in addition to any criminal suspensions or revocations that might occur after a court trial.
Criminal Penalties for DUII
Since DUIIs are crimes, they are prosecuted in Oregon criminal courts. The driver has the right to be represented by an attorney, and an experienced DUII defense lawyer can be a big help in navigating the trial and understanding the ramifications of a plea. Oregon does not allow plea bargaining when it comes to DUII charges. That means the driver must either plead guilty and be sentenced for a DUII or plead innocent and go to trial.
At the end of a trial, the driver is found either guilty or not guilty. A guilty verdict is a DUII conviction, and criminal penalties apply. Similar penalties apply to a guilty plea. Those penalties include a jail sentence followed by supervised probation, a fine and a license suspension. The level of severity increases with each repeat offense.
A few penalties apply across the board to every driver convicted of a DUII offense. These include completion of a screening assessment and attendance at a substance abuse treatment program, with the costs born by the driver. The Oregon judge will also order all DUII offenders to attend a victim impact panel and pay the cost.
Ignition Interlock Device
Another sanction a driver incurs for a DUII is the requirement to use an ignition interlock device, or IID, when they are allowed to drive again. This is a type of breathalyzer device that is attached to the ignition of a vehicle. Before the vehicle's engine will start, the driver must blow into the machine, and their breath must be free of alcohol.
Use of an IID is mandated by the court for one year for a first conviction, two years for a second conviction and three years for a third DUII conviction. The person must pay to have the IID installed and maintained on every vehicle they regularly drive, as well as every vehicle they own.
- Oregon Laws: Oregon Revised Statutes Section 813.010 Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants
- DUI Process: Oregon DUI Laws Overview
- DUI Driving Laws: Oregon DUII Laws, Fines and Consequences
- Oregon Laws: Oregon Revised Statutes Section 813.400 Application of Vehicle Laws to Bicycles
- DUI Driving Laws: Oregon First Offense
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.