Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance is a serious crime. Each state has its own "driving while intoxicated" (DWI), or "driving under the influence" (DUI) laws. Under the Oregon DUI laws, a driver can be convicted of a DUI for being under the influence of alcohol, intoxicating liquor, a controlled substance, or an inhalant.
Oregon's DUI Laws
Oregon's Revised Statutes section 813.010 (Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants) prohibits driving under the influence of intoxicants under any of the following circumstances:
- Having a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.08% or more
- Being under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a controlled substance, or an inhalant, or
- Being under the influence of any combination of, intoxicating liquor, an inhalant, and a controlled substance
Driving under the influence of intoxicants is a Class A misdemeanor that is punishable by imprisonment for up to one year and/or the following fine:
- First conviction: at least $1,000.
- Second conviction: at least $1,500.
- Third (or subsequent) conviction: at least $2,000 (if the offender isn't sentenced to serve time in jail).
However, these penalties are enhanced if the offender was driving with a particularly high BAC or had a minor in the vehicle when the offense occurred. For example, driving with a BAC of 0.15% or greater carries a minimum fine of $2,000. Additionally, if there was a passenger in the car who was under 18 years old, and was at least three years younger than the offender, then the maximum fine possible increases to $10,000.
A misdemeanor DUI offense can be elevated to a felony DUI if the driver has been convicted of driving while under the influence of intoxicants (either in Oregon or in another state) at least twice within the previous ten years. However, convictions in other states that were based solely on the offender being under 21 years old and having a BAC that is lower than the permissible BAC for a person over 21 years old don't qualify as a prior conviction under this section.
Once an offender has been sentenced for a felony under this section, then the 10-year time limitation is eliminated and any new acts of driving under the influence of intoxicants will also be a felony, no matter when the new offense occurs.
Violators under this section are guilty of a Class C felony that carries a minimum sentence of at least 90 days in jail.
Proving BAC (Blood Alcohol Content)
Any person driving in Oregon has impliedly consented to a chemical test of their breath, or their blood (if the are receiving medical care immediately after a car accident) in order to determine the driver's BAC if the person was arrested for driving under the influence. In order to administer the test the police officer must have reasonable grounds to believe that the arrested person was driving under the influence.
If a driver refuses to take a BAC test, or fails a BAC test, evidence of their refusal or failure can be used against that person in court. A driver can fail a BAC test in any of the following three ways:
- Having a BAC of 0.08% or more while driving
- Having a BAC of 0.04% or more while driving a commercial vehicle, or
- Having any amount of alcohol in their blood if under 21 years old
State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Oregon's DUI laws contact a local criminal defense attorney.