40 percent of all traffic deaths are a direct result of people driving under the influence of alcohol or some other intoxicating substance. Numerous high profile cases have led Oregon to pass some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the country. Even for first-time offenders who are offered diversion (a program that can result in the dismissal of all charges), the consequences can be very serious, and repeat offenders can lose their driving privileges for life. Whether you have been charged with misdemeanor DUI, felony DUI, vehicular assault, or other related offense, it is important to hire an experienced defense lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the system.
The expense of retaining an experienced DUI lawyer can sometimes feel like a part of the punishment, but Ms. Sammons is cost effective. She keeps her overhead low so she can charge reasonable hourly rates, and works hard to be as efficient as possible.
Important Facts to Know For First Time Offenders:
If you are arrested for DUI, you are subject to TWO different suspensions of your driver’s license.
- First, the DMV, an administrative agency, can suspend your license if you failed or refused a breath test or urine test. You can try to fight the DMV by requesting an implied consent hearing online, but you only have 10 days from the date of your arrest. Otherwise, the suspension will be automatic. It is best to ask a lawyer to schedule the hearing for you, otherwise you might end up with a date your attorney is not available. Have your drivers license number handy when you call, it will be listed on your citation. The hearing will be held about 3 weeks after your arrest, and the judge will quickly decide whether or not your license will be suspended. Hiring a lawyer vastly increases your chances of winning these hearings. And even if you don’t win, there is no penalty for losing, other than the suspension you would have received anyway. Plus you can learn a lot about the case. So you should definitely ask for one if you can. DMV suspensions last 90 days to 3 years or more, depending on your record. Read more about Implied Consent Hearings HERE.
- The Court can ALSO suspend your license in certain circumstances. If your court case is dismissed or if you participate in diversion, the Court will not suspend your license and you will just have the DMV suspension, if any, to contend with. If you are convicted, however, your license will be suspended for 1 year, 3 years, or life, depending on your past record
Even if your license is suspended, you may be eligible for a Hardship Permit (usually after a waiting period). You will need to fill out a hardship license application, pay an application fee, and obtain a letter from your employer stating that you are employed and the days and times you need to drive for work.
You will also need to have an SR-22 filing from an insurance company, which will greatly increase your insurance rates. To avoid this, some people choose not to drive at all and forego the hardship license, even if they are eligible. Others choose to get an SR-22 from a different insurance company.
For precise details regarding waiting periods, suspension periods, etc. you can consult this Suspension/Revocation Chart promulgated by the DMV.
Thousands of Oregon DUIs end up in diversion. Read more about diversion here.
According to the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles, roughly 25,000 people are arrested for DUI every year in Oregon and over 40% of those arrests end in diversion. Nobody tracks whether or not participating in diversion helps people overcome their issues with addiction (if any) and whether or not it helps them stay out of trouble with the law in the future.
In Oregon, it’s illegal to “plea bargain” a DUI down to reckless driving, AKA “wet reckless,” a common practice in many other states.
In many areas of criminal law, it is possible to work out all sorts of creative plea bargains. In Oregon, however, DUI plea-bargaining is constrained by law. For example, for a first DUI conviction (not to be confused with diversion), the sentence is almost invariably 2 days of jail, 1 year of probation, approximately 90 days of substance abuse treatment, a variety of fees and fines, a requirement that you attend a Victim Impact Panel, and a one year driver’s license suspension from the court. Punishments increase predictably with each offense. You will also be required to get an Ignition Interlock Device unless you get a medical exemption.
As a result, a fair number of DUI cases get dismissed and a fair number end up going to trial.