For some of us, a night on the town in Portland or Hillsboro ends with the wail of a police siren and lights flashing in your rearview mirror. If you’ve never been stopped for DUI before, the entire process -from the police stop to the laying of charges and beyond- can be confusing and even harrowing. It’s too easy to say or do the wrong thing and make your situation even worse.
At Harris Velázquez Gibbens, we know what you’re going through because we’ve represented hundreds of people in your position. In this blog, we go over everything you need to know if you’re facing DUI charges in Oregon, as well as the best ways to avoid getting pulled over in the first place.
DUI Charges in Oregon
Typically, a DUI (also known as DUII- driving under the influence of intoxicants) case begins with a roadside arrest. Under Oregon’s implied consent law, you are required to submit to a chemical breath, blood, or urine test after being pulled over. If you refuse, your license will be suspended for one to three years. Should the test reveal that your blood alcohol content is 0.08% or more, you can be charged with DUI. (Note: a law passed in 2021 states that you can be charged with DUI if your BAC is 0.08% or more within two hours after driving a vehicle.)
Ideally, you should contact an Oregon DUI lawyer before taking the chemical test; the police must allow you to contact a lawyer before taking the chemical test. However, if you’ve never been stopped for DUI before, you may not even know that you have the right to contact a lawyer at the scene. The truth is that the sooner you contact a DUI defense lawyer to go over your legal options, the greater your chances of avoiding the harshest outcome of a DUI conviction.
First-time DUI convictions in Oregon carry fines of $1,000 or more, 48 hours or more in jail, up to 80 hours of community service, and/or ignition interlock installation requirements. As an alternative to these consequences, many eligible first-time offenders choose a DUI diversion program.
A DUI diversion program in Oregon requires you to undergo an alcohol evaluation and treatment program, pay a $490 court fee, and participate in a victim impact panel. Upon successful completion of the program, your DUI case will be dismissed after one year.
Although not as ideal an outcome as an immediate case dismissal, it is still preferable to the expensive and long-lasting consequences of a DUI conviction. Still, what if you could avoid DUI charges altogether?
Best Ways to Avoid Getting Pulled Over
The simplest way to avoid a DUI is to refrain from driving after consuming an intoxicating substance. However, even if you don’t drive while impaired, alcohol can linger in your system for hours afterward and metabolites from marijuana are detectable for up to 30 days. You can even be charged if the police believe that your prescription medication prevents you from driving safely. Therefore, the ideal scenario is to avoid being pulled over in the first place. The tips below can help.
- Make Sure Your Lights Are Working: If the police want to stop someone, they need reasonable grounds. When you aren’t driving recklessly or speeding, they may check your vehicle to see if there is anything amiss, like a broken taillight. Before you head out, make sure all lights are working properly.
- Obey All Stop Signs and Traffic Signals: This is one of the best ways to avoid getting pulled over. Stop when required, signal when you’re about to turn, and stay within your lane, especially when driving during the hours when police tend to make DUI stops. Drive especially carefully when you’re leaving a bar, as the police sometimes wait outside of drinking establishments to watch departing drivers.
- Don’t Speed: It doesn’t matter whether you’re going only a mile or two over the speed limit. If the police have a reason to pull you over for speeding, they’ll likely look for signs of intoxication.
How to Prevent a DUI if You Are Pulled Over
Sometimes you may end up being pulled over despite your best efforts. If that happens, you may still be able to prevent a DUI in the long run.
Start by being polite and cooperative. When the officer asks for your license and registration, hand them over. If asked where you are coming from, where you are going, or whether you have had any drinks, respectfully decline to answer. Although it may seem on the surface like you’re just having a conversation with them, the officer is actually looking for evidence that you may be driving under the influence.
If they ask you to do a field sobriety test, act on your right to respectfully decline. It’s not a requirement that you walk in a straight line or stand on one leg, regardless of what the officer might tell you. Even if you haven’t had a drop of alcohol, you can easily fail these tests. Don’t take the risk.
If the police officer asks you to submit to a breath test, you should call a lawyer immediately. Don’t refuse outright, as doing so violates the implied consent law. When the police have reasonable grounds for suspecting a DUI and arrest you, they can request a test, but before you take it, they must give you 15 to 20 minutes to consult an attorney or another individual of your choosing. If you call an Oregon criminal defense lawyer, they can tell you how to best proceed.
Do You Lose Your License After a DUI?
If you are convicted of DUI in Oregon, there are certain mandatory punishments that include the loss of your driving privileges. For a first conviction, the suspension period is 1 year. If you are convicted a second time within five years, you can lose your license for 3 years. A third conviction will result in your driving privileges being permanently revoked.
For those who don’t have access to public transportation or have to drive for work, losing one’s driver’s license can be life-changing. An experienced DUI lawyer in Oregon can help you fight to maintain your driving privileges after you’ve been pulled over and/or charged with DUI.
Wondering How to Prevent a DUI? Speak to an Oregon DUI Defense Lawyer!
If you’ve been charged with DUI or any criminal offense in Oregon, you need a skilled legal advocate who will protect your rights and your future. The attorneys at Harris Velázquez Gibbens know what’s at stake for you and will provide a strong and dedicated defense against your DUI charges. If you’ve been pulled over and need help, call 503-610-4398 immediately. Otherwise, you can contact us online.