By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Stiff drinks lead to stiff DUI penalties

We may live in “wine country,” but penalties for “driving under the influence of intoxicants” are the same here as throughout Oregon: Stiff!

That one-word analysis is confirmed by a cursory look at our published court records, which have reported 40 local DUI convictions in the past two months. One-third of those people live outside Yamhill County, suggesting at least some impact from the draw of our acclaimed eateries and wineries.

There’s no simple synopsis to cover the 31,146 words in Oregon’s DUI law – about 60 pages of single-spaced text. But here are some of the basics:

DUI is committed if, while or within two hours of driving, you have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher. Also, if you have any combination of cannabis, psilocybin, a controlled substance or an inhalant.

Minimum DUI fines are $1,000 for first offense; $1,500 for second offense; $2,000 for third or subsequent offense, or any offense with 0.15 percent blood alcohol content; and maximum $10,000 if a passenger under 18 years old is at least three years younger than the driver.

Penalties, however, don’t stop there. There are diverse mandates for driver license suspensions ranging from one year to life; requirements for vehicle ignition interlock devices; and high costs for legal representation, soaring car insurance premiums and embarrassment from public reports.

DUI is a Class A misdemeanor, but with multiple convictions it becomes a Class C felony with a minimum 90 days incarceration. Significant penalties are imposed for refusing a blood alcohol test, and for various special circumstances involving intoxicants in combination with other crimes.

Oregon still offers “diversion” programs for first offenders within a 15-year period. They must plead guilty, and pay a $490 fee plus costs of a treatment program. Another DUI during diversion becomes a second offense.

More than half of those 40 DUI convictions drew fines of $2,000; most involved 24 months of probation, but several were increased to 36 months; most involved 12-month license suspensions, but seven suspensions were for 36 months and eight were lifetime. One driver was sentenced to 120 days in jail, 36 months on probation, lifetime license revocation and a $2,000 fine.

As you might expect, our recent public records include more appeals seeking reinstatement of driver licenses.

Most people know that 4-5 drinks can produce 0.08 percent blood alcohol content; many people forget that a “drink” means 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

Be aware out there; counting those ounces can be more important than counting calories.

News-Register Publisher Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

Comments

Lizzy

4-5 drinks will produce much more than a .08 alcohol reading.