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A crime not open for interpretation

As the name of this entry suggests, the state of Oregon assigns intoxicated driving charges to a somewhat unique moniker. A DUII – or, Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants – is referred to in pretty clear terms, you know, if any of you stoners out there feel like asking the question, “Well, under the influence of what?” More specifically, it is illegal to in any state deemed unsafe by the arresting officer when it comes to operating a motor vehicle, with regard to illegal (or legal) mind-altering drugs or alcohol; the official legal limit for the latter is 0.08%, or 0.04% if you are a commercial vehicle operator. If you’re under the age of 21, any blood alcohol content is grounds for arrest.

And while you might think that craft beer doesn’t affect your BAC in the same way that hard liquor does, or that maybe the several glasses of wine you consumed at that downtown poetry reading really don’t impair your ability to do much of anything, you might want to reconsider that thought process a little, since getting issued a DUII is no joke. If you think you might be in denial, you’re certainly not alone; in 2012, only 1.4% of Oregonian drivers surveyed by the CDC reported driving after drinking too much, yet between 2003 and 2012 about 1,200 people statewide were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver. Given such a noteworthy mortality rate, one might be inclined to believe that number’s a little higher than 1.4. No matter what the actual numbers might be, one thing’s for certain: the legal procedures involved with getting convicted of a DUII.

What do I do first??

Let’s say you’ve been issued your very first DUII. There are two sets of procedures you should expect to follow upon being arrested. The first is that involving all potential penalties and criminal citations you can expect anytime you are found in violation of the law. We’ll get into that later, since that involves a whole shit ton of legal jargon and theoretical consequences that may or may not apply to you. What’s more important at the time of your arrest – in other words, what will more than likely, or should be on your mind – is the question of whether or not you’re going to immediately lose driving privileges.

If you haven’t realized already, the simplest to the most complex cases of intoxicated driving in the state of Oregon will result in your license being suspended while the case is being investigated and tried in a court of law – that is, unless you take action as soon as humanly possible. Even though you haven’t yet been found guilty or innocent, the state operates under what’s known as an Implied Consent law, meaning that by operating a motor vehicle in the first place you give an officer of the law your consent permission to test your blood or breath if he or she reasonably believes that you are under the influence of intoxicants. If you refuse to provide a test altogether, the suspension time is automatically set at one year for your first offense (and three years for both second and third offenses.) Alternatively, if you blow and you are over the legal limit, the suspension time is set between 90 days and one year.

So what does that mean for you? If you have any suspicion that your license may be suspended for any reason following an arrest, you should file for an appeal. This must be done, in writing, within 10 days of the arrest date. The predetermined suspension will likely not be scheduled to start after just 10 days, but that is without a doubt the length of time you have to appeal. If your appeal is rejected, it will not have an effect on your eventual sentencing if you are eventually found guilty.

Don’t let it happen to you!

A DUII in this scenario a first-time offense if it is truly the first time you have ever been caught drinking and driving, or if it is has been at least five years from the last time you were convicted of a similar crime. The latter situation is what is also known as a “look back period.” As you’ll see, the state of Oregon does not take this sort of a crime lightly, and the constraints of the law will ensure long-lasting damage to your reputation as well as to your bank account. For a comprehensive look at what might happen, refer to the following penalty breakdown by type of DUII offense.

  • First offense: This is considered a misdemeanor.
    • Jail time for at least 48 hours and for up to one full year.
    • A fine typically in the range of $1,000-2,000.
    • License suspension for one full year. You do have the option of applying for a “hardship permit”, or one that is restricted but allows the transportation to certain places crucial to your everyday occupations, or to something like a drug/alcohol treatment program. With a first offense, there is no mandatory period of time you must wait before applying for such a permit.
    • Mandatory enrollment in a drug/alcohol treatment program as well as Oregon’s Victim’s Impact Panel Program.
    • The installation an ignition interlock device (IID) for one year.
  • Second offense: Also a misdemeanor.
    • Up to one full year in jail.
    • A fine ranging from $2,000-10,000.
    • License suspension for three full years. If you want to apply for a hardship permit, you’re required to wait 90 days first.
    • Mandatory enrollment in a drug/alcohol treatment program as well as Oregon’s Victim’s Impact Panel Program.
    • The installation an ignition interlock device (IID) for two years.
  • Third offense: Considered a class C felony.
    • Up to five years in jail.
    • A fine ranging from $2,000-10,000.
    • Permanent license revocation. (However you may petition the DMV for reinstatement after 10 years.)
    • Mandatory enrollment in a drug/alcohol treatment program as well as Oregon’s Victim’s Impact Panel Program.

Keep in mind that you may be charged with a DUII even if your BAC is below the legal limit, that is, if the arresting officer has reason to believe that you should not be driving, no matter how much alcohol is actually in your system. You can expect this sort of charge to be issued after the administration of a field sobriety test. In other words, if you can’t walk in a straight line, you shouldn’t really be driving a car.

Nothin’ wet or reckless about it

At a certain point in a probably-guilty sort of situation, thinking about realistic defenses becomes inevitable, because in even the most culpable situations, we all want a second chance – or at least for all possible options to be weighed. In other states, a common “lesser” plea that an attorney might recommend is a “wet reckless”, which essentially state that while alcohol or drugs were indeed present at the original scene of the crime, your actions technically could be considered reckless driving. Therefore you walk away with a reckless driving charge (and an assortment of fees and possible suspension) but with no DUI charge to speak of. This sort of defense is prohibited by Oregon state law.

What is possible in terms of a deferment or lightening of charges is a state-sanctioned program called the DUI Diversion Program. This is only available to those who:

  • Have not been convicted of a DUII in at least 10 years
  • Have never been convicted of a felony DUII
  • Have no charges of manslaughter or homicide pending against them
  • Are not commercial vehicle operators.

Once accepted into the Diversion Program, you can eventually have the DUII charge dismissed, but only after you (1) pay the required enrollment fee, (2) complete (and pay for) a drug/alcohol assessment, and (3) complete (and pay for) any recommended treatment programs recommended by the Diversion Program curators.

Never fear…BernieSez is here

If you’re feeling nervous or unsure about how to proceed after being handed a DUII charge, it’s advised that you hire a lawyer – especially if you have reason to believe that the law might be on your side in some way or another. You have the right to an attorney, as well as to a fair trial; don’t let those things be compromised because of some heavy-handed law enforcement. Hop on the BernieSez site today to be connected with a host of experienced attorneys from all over the country, or simply upload questions pertaining to your situation to our discussion boards, where those with the best legal qualifications can reach out to you and offer you their services. DUI (plus those with the extra I’s) can be scary, but you deserve the best side of justice possible while handling your case. Try BernieSez today.

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