Eligibility requirements for Oregon’s DUII Diversion Program have again been changed by the Oregon Legislature. Alterations to Oregon DUII laws are among the most common areas for new legislation, resulting in changes every two years.
Oregon’s DUII Diversion Program was created in 1979, at the same time the Legislature changed the law to make all DUII’s a criminal offense. Prior to 1979, a DUII with a breath test under .15 was not a criminal offense. In 1979 they lowered the maximum blood alcohol level to .10 and created Diversion as an alternative.
Diversion is a one year deferred sentencing program. The accused is found guilty of DUII but not sentenced for one year. During that one year period the person is required to have an alcohol evaluation and complete treatment as directed at their own expense. There are fees for entry into the program and a mandatory Victims Impact Panel.
Under current law a person who is arrested for DUII is eligible for Diversion if there are no injuries to other people associated with the offense, the person has no pending charge of DUII murder, manslaughter, aggravated vehicular homicide, criminally negligent homicide or assault involving a motor vehicle and the person does not hold a commercial drivers license.
Under current law there is also a “10 year rule,” which means that a person is ineligible if, in the last ten years they have:
A. been convicted of DUII in Oregon or any other state;
B. they have been convicted of an alcohol related driving offense other than DUII in another state; or
C. if they have participated in a DUII Diversion Program or Diversion-like program of any kind for any crime in the last ten years.
The 2009 legislature has now made two significant changes in the law. First, they extended the “10 year rule” to a “15 year rule.” More significantly, the legislature added an additional disqualification: a person must not have been convicted of any other traffic crime in the last 15 years.
The change in the “10 year rule” has been proposed in several past legislative sessions. However, the “no other traffic crimes” restriction is a major change in existing law. This would mean the persons convicted of criminal Driving While Suspended or Reckless Driving would be ineligible for Diversion, as well as anyone convicted of any other major traffic crime.
When Diversion was created in 1979 the legislature was concerned about offering incentives to people to explore rehabilitative alternatives to conviction of a crime. These changes are further evidence of the shift away from an emphasis on rehabilitation toward a “punishment first” philosophy. This change was sponsored and recommended by the Oregon District Attorney’s Association.
This post relates to persons receiving an Oregon DUII.