Subject to a few exceptions, consumption and possession of alcohol and marijuana by a person under 21 years of age is illegal in Oregon. A person under the age of 21 who operates a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants can be charged with a DUII, as well as other crimes and violations.
This article discusses the laws and consequences associated with a DUII offense committed in Oregon by a person under the age of 21.
In Oregon, any person can be convicted of DUII for driving:
Generally, a person is considered "under the influence" when the person's "physical or mental facilities are adversely affected to a noticeable or perceptible degree."
But for drivers who are under 21 years old, having any amount of alcohol in the blood also constitutes being "under the influence" of alcohol. Therefore, a minor can be convicted of a DUII offense for having any amount of alcohol in the blood.
Generally, the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will administratively suspend the license of any driver who is arrested for a DUII and fails a breath test. For adults, in most circumstances, a BAC of .08% or more is deemed a failed test. However, under Oregon's implied consent law, for a driver under the age of 21, any amount of alcohol in the blood is considered a failed test.
The suspension for a failed test is typically 90 days. However, the suspension is increased to one year if, within five years of the current offense, the offender was convicted of a DUII, participated in a DUII diversion or similar alcohol/drug program, or had driving privileges suspended under the implied consent law (for a failed test or refusal).
In many circumstances, an underage DUII offender will be eligible to participate in Oregon's DUII diversion program. Diversion participants must comply with the conditions of the program, which typically include paying fees, complying with treatment recommendations, and installing ignition interlock devices (IID) on all vehicles operated during the term of the diversion agreement. Successful completion of diversion leads to the DUII charge being dismissed at the end of one year.
Underage DUII offenders who don't participate in diversion (or who fail to successfully complete diversion) are generally subject to the same criminal penalties as adult DUII offenders. A first DUII is a class A misdemeanor and the judge will impose the following minimum penalties:
Oregon's DUII laws are complicated, and the consequences of a DUII arrest and/or conviction can be severe. If you are under 21 years old and have been arrested for a DUII, or if you are the parent of a minor who has been arrested for DUII, get in contact with a qualified DUII lawyer in your area.