Defining DUII in Oregon

Posted on behalf of Rizk Law on Jul 08, 2016 in Auto Accident

Did you know that Oregon is home to a quarter of the country’s llama population, or that The Simpsons creator Matt Groening was born and raised in Portland, and based the entire series in Springfield, Oregon? It’s no secret that the state of Oregon is an oddball, beloved for its many idiosyncrasies. The Beaver State even defines drunk driving differently from the rest of the country. While the majority of states define drunk driving as DUI, or driving under the influence, Oregon goes one letter further to DUII, or ”driving under the influence of intoxicants”. It’s so unique, even the word processor this is being typed on underlines the acronym as if it were incorrect.


Driving under the influence of intoxicants differs from the rest of the states that utilize driving under the influence, driving while impaired, or operating under the influence. Oregon’s terminology seeks to more clearly define illegal driving conditions. “Intoxicants” for this purpose can mean alcohol, prescription medications, illegal drugs, recreational marijuana, or inhalants. For years simply “drunk driving” was the standard, but over time the law has expanded to accommodate drivers under the influence of many different substances.

Controlled substances affect a person’s driving ability just as much as alcohol. In jurisdictions where DUI is the standard, the laws for impairment from substances that are not alcohol aren’t as clear. By defining DUII, Oregon makes impairment illegal in all its forms. So, whether you are pulled over for having a BAC over the legal limit or driving while high on marijuana, cocaine, or prescription pain killers, whether you have only one substance in your body or not, the consequences are the same.

Beer Capital of the World

Perhaps in the state that houses the Beer Capital of the World (aka Portland) it makes sense to define DUI a bit more rigorously. Portland, Oregon is known for its craft breweries, proudly home to 38 within the entire metro area, more than any other city in the world. The Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland attracts tens of thousands of spectators each year.

These craft breweries are a testament to Portland’s distinct culture, along with Oregon’s legalization of recreational marijuana use. As of July 2015, recreational weed is not something you’ll end up in jail for; however, driving under the influence of a marijuana high is still illegal. Craft beer presents a unique problem in that craft beers typically have the highest levels of alcohol by volume (ABV). Some of Portland’s most beloved ales, lagers, and stouts carry deceptively high alcohol content. Of the top 50 Portland craft beers ranked by The Oregonian, #35 yields 10.7% ABV.  Some go as high as 12%! At this rate, it takes fewer beers to reach the legal limit.

Legal limits for both alcohol and marijuana exist as a way to keep drivers safe. Across the US, the 0.08% is the legal blood alcohol concentration limit. The few states that have legalized marijuana use have also set a limit on THC concentration. In Washington and Colorado, the THC limit is 5 micrograms per liter of blood. In Oregon, any amount detected is reason enough for arrest (OR Rev. Stat. § 813.010).

Top Factors in Traffic Collisions

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) lists the top 4 reasons for traffic accidents and fatalities on the roadways. Data from the 2015 Traffic Safety Report indicate that DUII, speeding, road and lane departure, and low-light driving conditions are common variables among the many accidents Portland sees each day.

DUII is one of the most troubling factors, accounting for 54% of fatal crashes in Portland last year. This means that over half of all fatal accidents were due to irresponsibly driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. In addition, 30% of pedestrian fatalities involve an intoxicated pedestrian or driver.

It is easy to see a correlation between Portlanders’ higher-than-average consumption of high-alcohol content and marijuana, and the number of fatalities for DUII. In 2014, a Portland woman was accused of killing a Longview man and injuring 7 others while driving the wrong way after having just 2 beers!  Although Oregon shares many of the traits that place Montana, Wyoming, and other northern states at the top of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s list for Top 10 States for DUI, Oregon itself isn’t on that list. It placed #38 out of the 51 states (including DC).

It looks like the craft beer scene is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean DUII laws and consequences will be any more lenient for Portlanders. If you have been involved in a collision with a drunk driver, you’re entitled to compensation. Richard Rizk is your local Portland car accident lawyer. Having worked on both sides of the fence with insurance matters, he has the skills to help you reach a fair settlement. Call Rizklaw at (503)245-5677 or email today!