Impaired Driving

The average cost for a first-time DUII in Oregon is $4,500. However, it can be as much as $10,000 and even more if someone is injured or killed.

In the United States, drunk driving is the number one cause of death on our roadways.

Every two minutes, someone is injured by a drunk driver and every 51 minutes someone is killed by a drunk driver.

In 2019, Oregon experienced 2,336 substance-involved crashes in which 318 people died and 334 people sustained life-alerting injuries.

From 2018- 2019, substance-involved fatalities increased 1%, of note is for the first time since 2014, drug-only fatalities saw a decrease of 17%, alcohol-only involved fatalities (fatality is one person rather than one crash) saw a 5% increase and fatalities involving either alcohol or drugs decreased 9%.

Poly-substance fatalities, which have increased every year since 2014, saw a 30% increase from 2017-2018.

In Oregon, overall substance involved crashes (the table above is people) increased 1% from 2017-2018. Fatal and serious injuries (people) as a result of substance-involved crashes increased 6%.

From 2017-2018, substance involved crashes that resulted in a fatal or serious injury increased from 15% to 17% and of note, substance involved fatal and serious injury crashes account for 25% of all fatal and serious injury crashes.

The public may not be aware but Under Oregon DUII law, a person commits the offense of driving while under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) if the person drives a vehicle, upon a premise open to the public, while the person:

• Has 0.08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in the blood of the person as shown by chemical analysis of the breath or blood of the person; OR.

• Is under the influence of intoxicating liquor, cannabis, a controlled substance or an inhalant; OR.

• Is under the influence of any combination of intoxicating liquor, an inhalant, cannabis, and a controlled substance.

If you are using prescribed medication that impacts your ability to drive you can be arrested for DUII.

If a person in Oregon is driving under the influence of drugs there is no legal limit. In addition, a person may be arrested for DUII even if they are below the legal limit.

• Over 21 - .08 BAC

• Under 21 - .01 BAC

• Commercial Drivers - .04 BAC

Effects of commonly misused drugs on driving

Marijuana affects psychomotor skills and cognitive functions critical to driving including vigilance, drowsiness, time and distance perception, reaction time, divided attention, lane tracking, coordination, and balance.

Opioids can cause drowsiness and can impair cognitive function.

After alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often found in the blood of drivers involved in crashes. Tests for detecting marijuana in drivers measure the level of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s mind-altering ingredient, in the blood. But the role that marijuana plays in crashes is often unclear.

THC can be detected in body fluids for days or even weeks after use, and it is often combined with alcohol. The vehicle crash risk associated with marijuana in combination with alcohol, cocaine, or benzodiazepines appears to be greater than that for each drug by itself.

Several studies have shown that drivers with THC in their blood were roughly twice as likely to be responsible for a deadly crash or be killed than drivers who hadn’t used drugs or alcohol. However, a large NHTSA study found no significant increased crash risk traceable to marijuana after controlling for drivers’ age, gender, race, and presence of alcohol. More research is needed.

Along with marijuana, prescription drugs are also commonly linked to drugged driving crashes. In 2016, 19.7 percent of drivers who drove while under the influence tested positive for some type of opioid. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving

Penalties for DUII in Oregon

The average cost for a first-time DUII in Oregon is $4,500; however, it can be as much as $10,000 and even more if someone is injured or killed.

In the State of Oregon, Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII) is either a Class A misdemeanor or a Class C Felony. Misdemeanor DUII is punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of $6,250. Felony DUII is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $125,000.

In Oregon, DUII is a misdemeanor crime unless you have three or more prior DUII convictions in the past 10 years. If convicted of misdemeanor DUII, your Oregon driving privileges will be suspended for one year, three years, or revoked for life, depending on your driving record. If convicted of felony DUII, your driving privileges will be revoked for life.

In addition to the charge of DUII, many face additional charges arising out of the same incident. Reckless Driving, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Criminal Mischief, and other charges often accompany a DUII charge, and heighten the risk you are facing. Violations such as Careless Driving, Violation of the Basic Rule, Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device, Failure to Drive Within Lane, and other violations are punishable by a fine only and very rarely a license suspension.

If someone is injured or killed by an impaired driver that driver may also face manslaughter and assault charges. The below are examples of penalties for DUII; however, keep in mind that penalties depend on a variety of circumstances, such as prior offenses and driving record.

• Fines: minimum of $1,000 fine

• Jail Time: minimum two days in jail

• Driver’s License Suspension: One year driver’s license suspension (ignition interlock hardship driving permit may be available after first 30 days of suspension)

• Ignition Interlock Device: ignition interlock restriction for 1 year upon driver’s license re-instatement

• 80 hours community service may be given instead of jail or fine if courts think this appropriate

• Complete alcohol / drug screening interview and treatment program

• Possible attendance at victim impact treatment sessions

• Mandatory alcohol evaluation

• OR SR22 Insurance (proof of financial responsibility) Requirement

Second DUII Offense - Conviction Misdemeanor

• Fines: minimum of $1,500 fine

• Jail Time: Two days to one year in jail

• Driver’s License Suspension: Three years driver’s license suspension (ignition interlock hardship driving permit may be available after first one year of suspension)

• Ignition Interlock Device: ignition interlock restriction for two years upon drivers license re-instatement

• Complete alcohol / drug screening interview and treatment program

• Possible attendance at victim impact treatment sessions

• Mandatory alcohol evaluation

• OR SR22 Insurance (proof of financial responsibility) Requirement

Third DUII Offense - Conviction Misdemeanor

• Fines: minimum of $2,000 fine

• Jail Time: Two days to one year in jail

• Drivers License Suspension: drivers license permanently revoked (may file a petition in the county circuit court to have driving privileges restored after a period of 10 years)

• Ignition Interlock Device: ignition interlock restriction for two years upon drivers license re-instatement

• Complete alcohol / drug screening interview and treatment program

• Possible attendance at victim impact treatment sessions

• Mandatory alcohol evaluation

• OR SR22 Insurance (proof of financial responsibility) Requirement

In addition to the above penalties you may be required to attend a Victim Impact Panel and hear from victims how an impaired driver impacted their lives. Also few people realize that DUII convictions impact insurance rates, and can impact your ability to even obtain insurance. If convicted of a felony, that conviction stays on your record for life and can affect your ability to find employment.

Finally, the choice to drive impaired can impact you the rest of your life, if you kill or injure someone you may be ordered to pay restitution in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some people convicted of DUII never get out from under their debt and it impacts their financial future, forever.

How to prevent drinking and driving

With all the ride shares and alternatives available it is difficult to understand why impaired driving still remains such an issue; however, drugs and alcohol impair judgement so the best way to avoid drinking and driving is to have a plan, and to stick to it, prior to going out to drink or prior to using drugs. Making a plan before you party is the best way to avoid putting yourself in a situation where your judgement is already impaired. Other ways to prevent drinking and driving are:

• Always choose a non-drinking designated driver — every time you go out. Uber, Lyft and taxis are all good choices.

• If you go out alone, do not drink alcohol. Order a non-alcoholic beverage such as a soft drink or water. Or if you are going out alone consider taking alternative transportation to and from your destination.

• Never feel pressured to drink alcohol. If you do plan on drinking, eat plenty of food and drink water.

• If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi or car-sharing service for a ride like Uber or Lyft.

• Never get in a car with a driver who has been drinking.

• If you can safely do so, protect others by taking their keys if they attempt to drive after consuming alcohol. They may be mad at you, but the alternative is much worse.

Remember choosing to drive impaired is a choice that can have consequences for the rest of your life.

Resources

• National Highway Transportation Safety Administration - https://www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/drive-sober-or-get-pulled-over.

• Traffic Safety Marketing Materials from NHTSA - https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials.

• MADD - https://www.madd.org/the-problem  Cate Duke – President of MADD Oregon – (541) 343 – 8115, or.state@madd.org.

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