For many people charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) in Oregon, the only options are pleading guilty or going to trial. Oregon law imposes mandatory minimum penalties for DUII convictions and prohibits plea bargaining. However, certain DUII offenders are allowed to enter a diversion program.
This article discusses Oregon's DUII diversion program, including eligibility and completion requirements, and the consequences of violating the terms of a diversion agreement.
A DUII offender is eligible for the diversion program if the current offense did not involve injuries or deaths to another person and the offender:
However, a person who participated in an alcohol/drug program within the last 15 years is not disqualified from participating in a DUII diversion if the prior program was entered as a result of a charge for minor in possession of alcohol.
To enter the diversion program, the defendant must plead guilty or no contest to the DUII charge. The court doesn't enter the guilty plea or no contest plea, but instead, allows the defendant one year to complete the diversion requirements. The offender must file a petition requesting diversion within 30 days of the first court appearance.
Successful completion of the diversion program—and the dismissal of the DUII charge that follows—generally requires the defendant to:
If the defendant fails to successfully complete or violates the terms of the diversion, the court will terminate the diversion. The court will hold a hearing where the defendant can "show cause" why the court should not terminate the diversion. The defendant will be convicted of DUII and sentenced without a trial if the defendant:
A defendant may file a motion to extend the diversion period for 180 days. The motion must be filed within the last 30 days of the diversion period and will only be granted if the court finds the defendant has made a good faith effort to complete the program and the remaining requirements can be completed within 180 days.
If the diversion is terminated, the defendant will likely face the mandatory penalties for a first DUII conviction.
A major benefit of successfully completing the diversion program is the DUII charge is dismissed and no conviction results. (However, an arrest will still be on record and an offender's driving record will reflect a chemical test failure or refusal.)
Another benefit of the DUII diversion program is that the court won't suspend the defendant's driving privileges. A first DUII conviction generally results in a one-year license suspension. The DMV may still administratively suspend the driver's license pursuant to the state's implied consent laws. But the administrative suspension will typically be just for 90 days. (Get more information about administrative versus court suspensions.)
A defendant who successfully completes the DUII diversion program will also avoid other mandatory penalties, including jail time, community service, and fines.
Oregon's DUII laws are complex, and the consequences of a DUII can be serious. If you have been arrested for DUII, you should contact a DUII attorney in your area. A qualified DUII lawyer can help you understand how the law applies to the facts of your case.