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What makes a DUII a felony in Oregon?

This past summer, an Oregon man crashed into six cars that were stopped at a stoplight. According to Oregon Live, the incident killed a 60-year-old woman. The driver reportedly had been twice convicted of drunken driving, and he had also been fined in 2004 after refusing to take a breath test. He was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, among other charges, following this accident.

This case illustrates several factors that can play a role in elevating the penalties associated with a DUII in Oregon. Anyone facing such charges should be aware of the steep consequences.

Factors for a felony

Under Oregon law, driving under the influence of intoxicants, such as drugs or alcohol, will be classified as a Class C felony if the person has had two DUII convictions over the 10 years prior to the date of the current incidents, including those that occur in other states.

Aggravating factors

While some states automatically elevate a DUII to a felony charge in the event that aggravating factors are present, Oregon does not. However, someone involved in such an incident can expect more severe penalties. Those aggravating factors include the following:

  • The accident caused bodily injury or death.
  • The accident caused property damage.
  • The accident took place while the drunk driver had a passenger who is both younger than 18 and at least three years younger than the driver.
  • The person's blood alcohol concentration was 0.15 percent or more.

The presence of these factors enables a judge to impose a harsher sentence. For example, the fine for a first DUII is $1,000. However, the law permits up to a $10,000 fine when the passenger in the drunk driver's vehicle meets the above requirements.

Administrative and criminal penalties

A felony DUII in Oregon is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of at least $2,000. Further, there may be administrative sanctions. As the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles points out, a third DUII offense conviction will result in a permanent license revocation. By contrast, the license suspension period for a second DUII conviction over the course of five years is three years with a 90-day wait for limited driving privileges.

In addition to these consequences, a felony on a criminal record can result in difficulty when someone is trying to find work our suitable housing. As the Oregon Police note, no traffic offenses will ever be expunged from someone's record. Due to the short- and long-term consequences of any DUII charge, it is important that anyone facing matters such as these contact an attorney as soon as possible.

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