The 2009 Oregon Legislature created a new mandatory minimum fine for people who have such a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that they are deemed “Super DUII.” Generally, the minimum fines for DUII are based on whether or not a person has a previous DUII conviction: a first conviction draws a fine of $1,000; a second $1,500; and a third $2,000.
The Legislature has now enacted a provision that requires a $2,000 minimum fine for anyone who was arrested and had a breath test result showing a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) over .15.
The thinking here is dubious at best. As an experienced Oregon DUII Lawyer I can state from experience that enhancing penalties has little effect in deterring people from driving under the influence. Most people have no idea what the penalties for DUII are in Oregon until they get a DUII. Even if they do know about the large fines, we have to remember that a DUII offense is almost always the product of diminished judgment caused by drinking. Deterrent information is not useful to people under the influence of intoxicants – alcohol.
Finally, it seems particularly misguided to tie the amount of the fine to a person’s BAC. Most DUII drivers are unaware of the degree of their intoxication and cannot estimate their BAC based on consumption. Since a person will be unable to tell the difference between whether they are at a BAC of .12 or .15 it seems unfair to treat them differently in terms of a fine.
James F. O’Rourke is an experienced Portland DUII Lawyer.