DUI Defense in Washington vs. Oregon

DUI Defense in Washington VS OregonBeing so close to Oregon, it is not uncommon to drive over the state line for everyday activities. Maybe you’re visiting friends to watch the football game, having dinner with family, or enjoying a night out on the town down in Portland. However, a night of fun can lead to some unfortunate situations, and if you end up being charged with driving under the influence, then there are some options you should be aware of when facing the penalties that come with that. It is important to understand the differences between Washington State and Oregon when it comes to DUI defenses, and what is available to you should you find yourself in this situation.

DUI diversion vs. deferred prosecution

In Oregon, if you are charged with DUI, you can avoid going to trial and pleading no contest by entering a diversion program as long as you meet the requirements. To successfully complete the DUII diversion program, you must pay required diversion fees to the court and restitution, as specified in Section 1 of the Summary of DUII Diversion Fees. If you face financial challenges, the court may consider fee waivers or payment plans. Additionally, you are obligated to undergo an alcohol and drug abuse assessment assigned by the court, with associated fees, and follow the recommended treatment program if necessary. Participation in a victim impact panel, adherence to state laws regarding intoxicant use, and compliance with specific conditions, such as using an approved ignition interlock device if ordered, are crucial for fulfilling the terms of the diversion agreement.

It’s essential to keep the court informed of your current mailing address throughout the process. It should be noted that you can participate in the diversion program even if you are a resident of Washington State (and were charged in Oregon), but you will have to bring that up as there will likely be court release conditions, and you will have to follow Oregon’s laws concerning their alcohol and drug treatment.

In Washington State, while we do not have a DUI diversion program (though the state does have diversion programs for other crimes), we do offer something called deferred prosecution. The Deferred Prosecution Program allows you (if you are dealing with significant alcohol or drug problems) to ask the court to delay your case until you complete intensive substance abuse treatment and meet other court requirements. If you successfully finish the two year treatment program, the charges can be dismissed three years later. However, if you don’t complete it successfully, the court can resume the original DUI charge.

Can I get my DUI charges reduced?

In Washington State, the answer to this is often yes. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is low, you were cooperative with law enforcement, have no previous criminal charges or arrests, maintain a clean driving record, and are voluntarily seeking treatment, these aspects may open the door to a negotiated reduction. Even if a reduction isn’t achieved, these factors can still play a role in influencing the judge’s decision on whether to impose the maximum or minimum penalties in your case. Your charges may be reduced to reckless or negligent driving.

In Oregon, getting your DUI charges reduced is not possible. In fact, the state has a statute that specifically prohibits plea bargains, which is why their diversion program is popular among those who are charged with DUI.

Can I get my DUI conviction expunged?

To have your conviction expunged from your record means to have it removed so that no one who looks at your record later (such as prospective employers or schools or landlords) can see that you have been convicted with a DUI (or whatever the crime may be). Unfortunately, in both Washington and Oregon state, you cannot get your DUI expunged from your record.

What is an Interlock Ignition Device?

Mentioned briefly above, an Interlock Ignition Device (IID) is a device that requires you to blow into it before you will be able to start your vehicle. It assesses your breath alcohol content (BAC) level, allowing your vehicle to start only if your BAC is below the prescribed BAC level (in Washington state, that level is 0.025 and in Oregon, it is 0.02.).

Along with an IID, you may be required to acquire proof of financial responsibility, which is most commonly obtained as SR22 insurance. Once SR22 insurance is obtained, your insurance carrier will provide proof to the Department of Licensing that you are lawfully insured to satisfy the requirement. According to MoneyGeek, State Farm offers the cheapest SR22 insurance.

If you find yourself facing DUI charges either here in Washington State or in Oregon, it is important to get an attorney who can ensure that you choose the options that are best for you. At Philbrook Law, we are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to both Washington State and Oregon laws, and we can take a look at your case and help you choose the best path forward. That can mean getting you in a diversion program, reducing your charges if possible, or even getting the charges thrown out altogether. To schedule a free consultation, call us at our Battle Ground and Vancouver WA offices, or use our contact form. We also serve clients throughout Oregon.