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Last month, an Oregon man driving with a .24 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) ran a red light and crashed into a car killing three teen passengers. Unfortunately, this was the man’s second DUI infraction, his first occurring four years prior to this fatal crash. At that time, he was eligible and therefore participated in Oregon’s DUI diversion program, which allows first time DUI offenders to complete a course and several conditions to have all charges dropped. By no means is this incident an argument against the efficacy of diversion programs, but it gives us a chance to look at the conditions of the program and how some may not rehabilitate and therefore relapse, as the driver in this story did.

Firstly, to be eligible for the Oregon DUI diversion program, you must not have had a DUI charge, nor any incident that resulted in another’s death, whether intentional or accidental, within 15 years to the day of your arrest. You must also plead guilty to your current DUI charges. From there, you must remain sober, attend classes and courses, and pay numerous fines. By failing to complete any of these requisites or by being charged with a second DUI, you are removed from the program and face the full consequences and punishments of a DUI conviction, including losing your license, insurance points added, thereby increasing your rates and possible jail time. If you complete the program, all charges are dropped and you continue on with your life.

According to a 2007 study of a similar DUI diversion program by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, they found that only 22% of participants in the program had been charged with another DUI versus 30% of convicted DUI defendants. After his arrest for the fatal drunk driving incident, the defendant repeatedly claimed he had only had two beers, despite blowing a .24 on the police breathalyzer. After a blood test at the police station, he increased his admitted number of beers to eight. While many find success with the DUI diversion program, it is a sad state of fact that some who go complete the program and will relapse; this case is a dark and grim example of such failures.

Almost every person avoids driving drunk to mitigate receiving a DUI, or finding themselves in an accident, especially one with fatal consequences to themselves or other passengers. DUIs can happen to unlikely people who had one drink too many and too fast. The body continues to metabolize alcohol long after you stop drinking – it is recommended you wait 30 minutes after your last drink before driving to better assess the alcohol’s effect on your coordination. If you are facing Portland DUI charges, your first move should be to hire a Portland DUI lawyer to help you understand your rights and you’re available options. Call us today for more information.