During the 2009 session the Oregon Legislature made a number of changes in the laws which affect persons charged with or convicted of the crime of DUII in Oregon. One of these law changes went into effect on July 1, 2009.
ASSAULT IN THE THIRD DEGREE ORS 163.165
Effective July 1, 2009, House Bill 3508 (in relevant part) amends ORS 163.165 to make Assault In The Third Degree committed by a person who is DUII a Class B Felony instead of a Class C Felony.
The maximum penalties for a Class B Felony are significantly greater than those for a Class C Felony.
Class C Felony: Prison for up to 5 years and a fine of up to $125,000.
Class B Felony: Prison for up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
House Bill 3508 also elevates the crime seriousness level for Assault III committed while DUII from a 6 to an 8 on the Oregon Felony Sentencing guidelines Grid.
Under the former law, if a person was convicted of DUII and Assault in the Third Degree arising from the same incident which occurred on or before June 30, 2009, the presumed sentence for the Assault III would have been presumptive probation.
Under the new law which applies to incidents which occur on or after July 1, 2009, the presumed sentence range would be at least 16 – 18 months prison with 3 years of post prison supervision.
This law change does increase the danger of prison incarceration for all defendants charged with committing this crime while DUII in Oregon and seriously increases the prison exposure for persons with criminal records.
We do not expect this to affect most of our clients who want to avoid prison sentences and who are willing to follow our advice about how to accomplish that goal.
Under the former law, for acts committed on or before June 30, 2009 a person charged with Assault In The Third Degree while DUII could get the charge dismissed pursuant to Civil Compromise, or if convicted could get the conviction expunged from his or her record after the expiration of the appropriate waiting period. For acts committed after June 30, 2009, Civil Compromise and Expungement will not available for persons who were DUII when they committed Assault in the Third Degree as it will be a Class B Felony.
There is no apparent reason for this law change except the misguided notion that increasing punishments somehow deters persons from driving while under the influence of intoxicants. The truth is that most people do not know about these laws until AFTER they get arrested, prosecuted and talk to a lawyer.
This new law punishes persons who commit Assault in the Third Degree while DUII more severely than those who commit the same crime, but not while DUII, even though they may be under the influence of intoxicants. For example, a person who recklessly injures another person, for instance, in a bar fight while under the influence of intoxicants is charged with a lower class of crime (Class C Felony), has a lower presumptive sentence and can get the charges dismissed though civil compromise and later can get the arrest or even a conviction removed from his or her criminal record.
By James F. O’Rourke Jr.