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Oregon DUI Laws

Oregon DUI / DWI law does not require that you be drunk to be convicted of Oregon drunk driving (or DUII, driving under the influence of intoxicants). In Oregon, you may be convicted of DUII if you are merely affected to some perceptible degree by the intoxicant you have consumed. The test is whether you lack the clearness of mind and physical control that you normally possess because of the intoxicant you have consumed. Intoxicants include drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both. If you are in such a physical condition through the use of medication, drugs, or even fatigue so that you become affected by a lesser amount of intoxicant than would normally affect you, you may still be found guilty of the charge of driving under the influence of intoxicants if your mental or physical faculties are affected to a noticeable degree. The offense may be committed on a public highway or on-premises open to the public. Therefore, the law applies to areas such as parking lots, transit station parking facilities, and schoolyards, but does not apply to driving on private land not open to the public.


What Can I Expect After an Oregon DUI Arrest?

Oregon DUI arrests (often called DUII, for driving under the influence of intoxicants) trigger two separate cases: a criminal court case, where significant punishment including jail time, fines, mandatory classes, required ignition interlock devices, and other consequences are sought; and a DMV case, where the person's driver's license may be suspended.

DMV Case or Administrative Case

Following an Oregon DUI arrest, you only have ten days from the date of your arrest to request a DMV Implied Consent hearing. Your request must be received at DMV Headquarters by 5:00 PM on the tenth day following the arrest. Failure to do so will result in an automatic license suspension. For most drivers, the suspension will be 90 days and the first 30 days are an absolute suspension (i.e. no driving for any reason). Most drivers with an Oregon driver’s license will be eligible for a hardship permit during the last 60 days of the administrative suspension which will allow for travel to and from work and to and from drug/alcohol treatment.

Requesting a hearing does not ensure that you will avoid license suspension. DMV hearings are known to be difficult so it is important to consult with a local DUI attorney if you want to fight the suspension. If you win the hearing, the administrative license suspension is not imposed. If you lose the hearing, the administrative license suspension will go into effect as if you never requested the hearing. DMV hearings are typically within 30 days of the date of your arrest. If the hearing is set out further, the license is typically rescinded (withheld) pending the ultimate outcome of the hearing. This means that if the government can’t hold your hearing within 30 days from the date of your arrest, you can likely keep on driving unless and until there’s a hearing in the future where the suspension is put into effect.

Criminal Case

Following your release from jail, you will be arraigned. This is your first hearing where you will be given the criminal charges against you and you will enter your plea with the judge. Your plea will either be guilty, not guilty or no contest. It is wise to consult with an attorney before your arraignment since your plea can affect your case. It is important that you make it to your arraignment on the date and time specified. Failure to do so can result in an arrest warrant and added charges to your case.

The next phase of your criminal case will be The Discovery Process where the evidence against you is collected. The prosecutor's evidence usually relies upon the opinion testimony of police officers who have made the DUII arrest. That opinion is usually based upon the officers' observations of driving patterns, physical appearance after the stop, your walking, standing, and speaking. The opinion also can be based upon the statements, if any, you make to the officer. The prosecutor may use the chemical analysis of your breath or blood to prove the offense of driving under the influence of intoxicants. If you hired an attorney, then he/she will ask the prosecutor to provide all the evidence against you to use in your defense. 

If you pleaded "not guilty," at your arraignment,  then you will have your preliminary hearing which is where the prosecutor will present the evidence against you to the judge to see if the evidence against you is strong enough for a conviction. If it is not, then your case will go to trial before a judge and jury. 

Oregon DUII cases may not be plea-bargained to lesser charges. While plea deals of this type are common in some states, in Oregon this practice is prohibited by state law, specifically ORS 813.170 (*PDF File). This is yet another reason why it is so important to consult with a top Oregon DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after a DUII arrest.

What Penalties Am I Facing if I'm Convicted for a DUI in Oregon?

Oregon DUI Penalties

1st Offense Penalties
  • 48 hours (or 80 hours community service) to 1 year of jail time
  • $1,000 ($2,000 if BAC is .15% or more) to $6,250 ($10,000 if the passenger is under 18 years and is at least three years younger than the driver) in fines
  • 1-year license suspension
  • 1-year with an Ignition Interlock Device
2nd Offense Penalties
  • 48 hours (or 80 hours community service) to 1 year of jail time
  • $1,500 ($2,000 if BAC is .15% or more) to $6,250 ($10,000 if the passenger is under 18 years and is at least three years younger than the driver) in fines
  • 3-year license suspension
  • 2 years with an Ignition Interlock Device
3rd Offense Penalties
  • 90 days (if convicted of DUII at least two times in the past 10 years) to 5 years if jail time
  • $2,000 (if the person is not sentenced to a term of imprisonment) to $125,000 (if convicted of a class C felony) in fines
  • Permanent (may petition the court to restore license after 10 years)
  • 2 to 5 years (depending on the timing of prior convictions) with an Ignition Interlock Device

Implied Consent and Refusing a Chemical Test Penalties

Oregon's "implied consent" laws require all motorists who are lawfully arrested for a DUII to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test. Failure to do so result in automatic license suspension.

  • 1st Offense - 1-year license suspension
  • 2nd Offense - 3-year license suspension
  • 3rd Offense - 3-year license suspension 

What is the DUII Diversion Program in Oregon?

Oregon driving under the influence of intoxicant (DUII) laws does afford the opportunity for first-offenders to seek DUI Diversion. However, changes to the law in 2004 make it important to have skilled DUII lawyers assist persons who are considering this alternative since a guilty or no contest plea to the DUII charges are a prerequisite to eligibility for DUII diversion. This alone makes consultation with a DUII defense attorney mandatory for anyone charged with an Oregon drunk driving offense.

DUI Diversion is a program that allows eligible persons to avoid a DUI conviction and the accompanying court penalties if they are able to complete the program requirements that are imposed. If successfully completed, diversion should result in the dismissal of the DUI charge at the end of one year. The eligibility requirements for DUII Diversion are set out in ORS 813.215 (*PDF File). A person arrested for a first-offense Oregon DUII may be eligible UNLESS:

  • You fail to appear at your arraignment without good cause.
  • You had another driving under the influence of intoxicants charge pending against you at the time you were arrested for driving under the influence; or
  • You are participating in, or in the last ten years have participated in, a diversion or alcohol rehabilitation program; or
  • Within the last ten years, you have been convicted of any degree of manslaughter, murder, criminally negligent homicide, assault involving the use of a motor vehicle or driving under the influence of intoxicants; or
  • The present DUII offense involved an accident resulting in death or physical injury to another person.

One of the most important things to keep in mind about DUII Diversion is that it has NO EFFECT on any DMV license suspension that may have been imposed for a breath/blood test failure or refusal. A CHALLENGE TO THIS SUSPENSION MUST BE DONE IN A SEPARATE PROCEEDING. Also, keep in mind that DUII Diversion only applies to DUII charges. It is not available to other charges brought, even in the same case. Finally, keep in mind that punishment for the underlying DUII charges is automatic if a person starts DUII Diversion and fails to complete it properly; that is just one of the reasons why consultation with an experienced Oregon drunk driving defense lawyer is critical before considering Oregon DUI diversion.

Oregon DUI defense attorneys also know that diversion will not help with insurance rates. Even if your Oregon DUII charge results in the successful completion of Oregon DUI Diversion, a diversion will appear on your driving record, and your insurance company will still treat you as if you have been convicted of drunk driving.

Local Oregon DUI Attorneys