The Oregon legislature has passed a bill that will toughen the state’s drunk driving (DUII) laws, requiring a breathalyzer (ignition interlock) device to be installed in the vehicle of every convicted DUII offender.
HB 3075 which passed both the Senate and the House unanimously, and goes to Governor Kitzhaber for signature.
Under existing law, a first offense DUII commonly results in a DUII diversion program. The diversion program allows participants to attend alcohol education and addiction programs, and if successfully completed, would be afforded a chance to have the DUII charge dismissed.
According to OregonLive.com, Oregon’s MADD representatives suggest that this is a major loophole, and that this law is so lax that program attendees routinely show up drunk at their education and treatment program sessions. But one would presume this clearly invalidates the terms of their diversion program, and results in more significant penalties, including driver’s license suspension.
On the other hand, representatives from restaurant trade groups note that data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that the average BAC level for a fatal DUI incident is .19, and 70% of fatal incidents are from a .15% BAC or higher, nearly twice the legal limit of .08% BAC. And yet we are talking about punishing first time offenders barely over the limit with a costly and potentially job destroying requirement.
Though first time offender interlock requirements are a growing trend nationwide, most other states have interlock requirements only for either multiple convicted drunk driving offenders, or so-called “high BAC” offenders, who registered blood alcohol levels of .15% or higher at the time of arrest. These offenders are considered the most dangerous, and the most likely to re-offend, likely due to severe alcohol addition problems.
Despite the beverage industry call for the Governor to veto this bill, there has been no suggestion that he is not inclined to go along with the clear will of the legislature.
We will follow the passage, implementation, and results of this bill as it likely becomes law.