Have you been arrested for a DUII and wondering if you need an attorney to represent you? Oregon State DUII laws are complicated and the punishment is severe. The best time to retain a DUII defense lawyer is as soon as possible after the arrest.
The state of Oregon takes drunk driving very seriously. A court may impose significant penalties, even for a first offense. In addition to jail time, fines, license revocation, the required installation of an ignition interlock device, and probation, there are often serious social consequences for a DUII conviction. Among other things, your car insurance rates may be raised, you may not be able to rent a car, your employment prospects may be undermined, and finding housing in the future may be more difficult. The stigma associated with a DUII conviction may affect not only you but also your spouse and children. If you have been charged with a DUII, you should consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Goodfellow & Cottle. We can advocate forcefully on your behalf to forestall, defeat, or reduce the consequences of a prosecution.Arrest for a DUII
You are pulled over for an unrelated traffic infraction that proceeds to a DUII investigation if law enforcement considers that you are exhibiting signs of intoxication. Under constitutional law you cannot be stopped without probable cause. If it is determined that you were pulled over with no cause to do so, then the evidence gathered as a result will be suppressed, which could lead to dropped charges. There could also be conflicting reports from officers at the scene, or exaggerated reports of accusations of swerving, slurred speech, red eyes, or the smell of alcohol. Any police stop could have errors that could be challenged with the help of one of our skilled DUII defense attorneys.
Certain tests may be administered, including the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, walk and turn, and one-legged stand. These are not mandatory. In fact, according to state law, you may choose not to comply if asked to perform these tests. However, you are required to take the blood or breath test, and refusing to do so can lead to severe penalties, including at least a one-year license suspension. The testing procedures are often incorrectly applied per the standards outlined by the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration). Even the most accurate of the tests has been shown to be only 77% accurate. If you performed any of these tests and were subsequently arrested, there could be room for an effective challenge.Potential Consequences of a DUII
In Oregon, drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle if they have a .08 percent or higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Penalties are increased for those with a .15 BAC or higher. It is nearly impossible for most drivers to predict how many drinks they can consume before reaching the BAC limit, since multiple factors can influence how alcohol affects an individual. There are lower BAC limits for drivers under 21 and commercial drivers. Although DUIIs are usually associated with drunk driving, DUII law also prohibits driving under the influence of controlled substances, such as cocaine, marijuana and other narcotics.
A DUII is a class A misdemeanor except in certain circumstances. A DUII can be a class C felony when a defendant has four or more prior offenses in a 10-year period, a prior conviction of vehicular assault or homicide while under the influence, or an out-of-state conviction that is comparable. If you refuse a breath test not only could you lose your license for at least a year, the police may be able to force a blood draw. Recently, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled police can take your blood to help determine impairment. "The decision in State v. Machuca clearly establishes the principle that the constitution does not require a police officer to obtain a warrant for a test to determine blood alcohol content from a DUI[I] suspect," [sic] former Oregon Attorney General John Kroger wrote. There are mandatory minimum penalties, even for a misdemeanor DUII. If you are convicted of a first DUII with a BAC of under .15, you may serve between 48 hours and one year in jail. Community service may be offered in lieu of jail time. You can also be fined between $1,000 and $6,250. The judge can suspend your license for at least one year. You may also have to install an ignition interlock device on your car. This device requires you to pass a breath test to start your car.
The penalties are increased with one or more DUII convictions within a ten-year period, making it critical to get an attorney to look out for your interests from the very first arrest. For example, if you have one prior DUII conviction within the last ten years, you may serve two days to one year in jail. The judge may fine you between $1,000 and $6,250 and require you to install an ignition interlock device.
There are various constitutional protections and police procedures that should be followed in all cases, and a police or lab violation can be good grounds for challenging a DUII charge. For example, some cases may be defended on the grounds that the police did not have probable cause to stop you. Others may be defended on the basis that a field sobriety test was improperly administered.
In some cases, the arraignment or first appearance will not be held until many weeks after the DUII arrest. It is advisable to retain an attorney early, even if no court charge has been filed, because you will still need to defend yourself against the DMV’s license suspension proceedings. It is never too early to begin work on your criminal defense. Remember that you must send in your request for a hearing to fight your license suspension within 10 days of the arrest. Your attorney will need to be in the case early in order to prepare for the DMV hearing since these hearings are “fast-tracked” under the law.Consult the Knowledgeable DUII Attorneys at Goodfellow & Cottle
It can be tempting to try to get a criminal case over with by simply pleading guilty, but each subsequent DUII conviction may involve increasingly harsher penalties. Since the judicial and social consequences may be severe, it is important to fight charges of DUII and other traffic offenses with the help of our experienced attorneys. We have decades of combined experience and can provide you with diligent legal representation. Goodfellow & Cottlerepresents defendants throughout Oregon.
CALL us at (503) 472-9090 to set up a consultation, or CLICK HERE to schedule an initial consultation at our McMinnville or Sherwood offices.