DUI FAQs from an Oregon DUII Lawyer
Answers to common questions about DUII arrests and the court process
The DUI Arrest
Most Oregon DUII arrests begin with a traffic stop due to the suspicion of DUII based on observations of driving or suspicion of violating the traffic laws in some unrelated way, such as speeding or a non-working headlight. The officer asks you to exit the vehicle and perform a series of field sobriety tests. After arrest, the officer usually will ask you to take a breath test at the police station or jail.
For most misdemeanor DUII arrests, the police will release you within a few hours of arrest and booking (but for a felony DUII or cases involving an injury to another property or another person, you may have to post bail. Upon release you should be given a citation to appear in court on a particular date.
The DMV Hearing Process
You must contact the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of your arrest to demand a hearing to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license. Otherwise you forfeit your right to a hearing and your license automatically goes into suspension after 30 days. If you hire a lawyer, he/she can request the hearing for you. It's usually better that way, because your lawyer can often schedule the hearing further out (thus getting more time to prepare).
Generally, your Oregon DUI attorney conducts the hearing on your behalf. You may or may not be asked to attend. Your lawyer's primary objectively is to convince the DMV not to suspend your drivers license. But your lawyer may also use the DMV hearing as an opportunity to gather evidence that may prove useful in later court when representing you against criminal charges.
For example, we can subpoena the arresting officer to testify at the DMV hearing…and illicit testimony about poor DUI training and mistakes in the investigation.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the DMV's hearing officer takes the matter into consideration and later issues written findings. The decision usually gets mailed out within 30 days. If the DMV finds in your favor, no license suspension is imposed (though a DUII conviction in court will trigger a separate suspension, the length of which is determined by your criminal history). If the DMV finds against you, your license goes into suspension within a few days of receiving notice.
If Your License Gets Suspended
If the DMV suspends your license, you may be able to get a hardship permit. A hardship permit allows you to drive to and from work related activities and any court or DMV imposed alcohol programs. Regardless, you must heed the suspension while it's in effect. Driving with a suspended license in Oregon is a crime and can lead to jail time and/or a probation violation.
DUI Court Proceedings
Most people whose BAC exceeds .08% get charged with Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants. After your arrest, the arresting officer forwards a report to the appropriate prosecuting attorney and the appropriate prosecuting attorney decides to file DUII charges against you. Charges can come from the district attorney’s office within the county of your arrest or the municipal prosecutor if the alleged DUII occurred within the city limits of a municipality. Your objective is to avoid conviction.
Your attorney will attend all court hearings with you. Most DUII cases may involve several court dates, and can span over several months. During this time, your DUII lawyer may collect evidence, file and argue motions, and negotiate with the prosecutor.
If no settlement can be reached, the DUII case will proceed to trial. Depending on the jurisdiction, prosecutors often allow for better plea deals after a case gets set for trial as the examination of evidence becomes more focused as the trial approaches. Problems in the state's evidence become more apparent when a prosecutor finally takes a hard look at a case.