Police officers throughout Oregon have a professional duty to identify and stop drunk drivers whenever they suspect driving under the influence, and one of the most important tools they use to identify drunk drivers is the chemical test. A police officer conducting a traffic stop for erratic driving, speeding, or another moving violation has the right to conduct a chemical test if the officer has reasonable cause to believe the stopped driver is under the influence. However, is this type of testing a violation of personal rights?
Oregon’s Implied Consent Law
By having and using an Oregon state driver’s license, Oregon drivers give implied consent to chemical testing as required by police officers. To administer a chemical test, the police officer conducting the traffic stop must have reasonable grounds to do so. For example, if the officer smelled alcohol on the driver’s breath, or the driver was speeding, or driving unusually slowly and disrupting the flow of traffic, these could all be reasonable grounds for a police officer to suspect driving under the influence.
Oregon state law allows an officer in this situation to conduct a breath, blood, or urine test to check a driver’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) level. The legal limit for Oregon drivers over 21 is .08% BAC. Any reading .081% or higher would constitute driving under the influence (DUI). There are special rules for urine tests; the police officer must have reasonable grounds to suspect illicit drug use, such as the presence of such substances in the vehicle.
Penalties for Refusing Chemical Tests
A driver who is not under the influence may feel flustered at the notion of having to undergo a chemical test, but there are consequences if the driver fails to comply with this request. If you have not been drinking then compliance with the test may be your best option. This will not only prove you are not under the influence but also ensures you avoid the automatic penalties assigned to drivers who refuse chemical tests.
Refusing a chemical test in Oregon qualifies as a traffic violation, punishable by a fine of $500 to $1,000. The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles will also issue an administrative suspension against the driver’s license. Refusing a chemical test entails a one-year license suspension, increased to three years if the stopped driver is currently part of a DUI diversionary program or had been arrested for DUI within the past five years.
Ultimately, the penalties for refusing a chemical test can be harsher than the penalties for a failed chemical test. Oregon drivers should remember this implied consent law any time a police officer requests a chemical test for suspected DUI.
The above is not intended as legal advice but simply informational. There are instances when refusing a chemical test maybe a better choice. For more information you should consult with an attorney.