Drunk Driving Defense Law in Oregon

Oregon has laws regarding drinking and driving just like every other state. Driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) is Oregon’s version of DUI and DWI. A driver is considered over the legal driving limit if his or her blood alcohol content is over 0.08. This does not mean that a person who passes a breath test is not impaired. If the person still appears impaired (cannot walk in a straight line, slurred speech, and/or strong odor of alcohol emanating from breath) DUII charges can still be filed.

Oregon also follows implied consent laws so a person who refuses to submit to blood alcohol testing can be arrested and have one’s license suspended. Also, Oregon has a zero-tolerance policy regarding minors and DUII. Any alcohol found in a driver under the age of 21’s system will result in a charge of Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants.

Reasons an Officer May Initiate a Traffic Stop

Oregon peace officers are trained to recognize the signs that a driver might be impaired. If an officer observes drivers committing infractions such as driving into oncoming traffic, tailgating, driving without headlights at night, speeding, or stopping in the middle of the street for no apparent reason, the officer can pull the driver over.

After pulling a driver over, the peace officer will investigate for further evidence of driver impairment. The officer will look for signs such as:

  • The smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath
  • If the driver looks flushed or has a reddish face
  • If the driver’s clothes are disheveled or untidy
  • If the driver slurs speech or talks like one’s tongue is swollen

Possible Penalties for DUII and Refusal to Take BAC Test

Penalties for DUII vary depending on the driver’s BAC level and whether or not the driver submitted to the BAC test. The test could be a breathalyzer, urine, or blood sample. The penalties for DUII are as follows:

Failure of a breath test:

  • 90 days, or
  • One year if you have any prior alcohol-related offenses in the last five years

Refusal to take a breath test:

  • One year, or
  • Three years if you have prior alcohol-related offenses in the last five years

Refusal to take a urine test:

  • One year, or
  • Three years with prior alcohol-related offenses in the last five years.
  • This suspension begins after any other implied consent suspensions have ended.

Refusal to take a blood test while receiving medical care after a collision:

  • One year, or
  • Three years in the event of prior alcohol-related offenses in the last five years

Failure of a blood test for DUII while receiving medical care after a collision:

  • 90 days, or
  • One year with prior alcohol-related offenses
  • This suspension begins the 60th day after it was reported to the DMV that you refused the test.

Additional Penalties 

Drivers convicted of DUII will also be required to add an interlock device to their vehicles. The device requires a breath test before it will allow the driver to start the car and drive. A driver can also lose one’s license for five years if the driver is convicted of any of the following acts three times within a five-year period:

  • DUII
  • Driving while privileges are suspended or revoked
  • Failure to act responsibly after a collision
  • Fleeing, attempting to evade law enforcement
  • Murder, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault, reckless endangerment of another, menacing, criminal mischief related to the operation of a vehicle
  • Reckless driving
  • 20 traffic violations or more within five years