Central Oregon Daily▶️ New Oregon DUII laws go well past alcohol, drugs for impairment

▶️ New Oregon DUII laws go well past alcohol, drugs for impairment

▶️ New Oregon DUII laws go well past alcohol, drugs for impairment

Bend police cruiser

An expansion to DUII laws at the beginning of 2024 extends well passed alcohol and illicit drugs. Any substance found in your system that leads to impairment can now land you in jail in Oregon.

“It just expands the definition of ‘intoxicant’ to anything that could be impairing. That could be kratom, nyquil, caffeine. Any number of things,” Bend Police Department Communications Manager Sheila Miller said. “Any over-the-counter drug taken outside the recommended dosage would be a good example.”

Miller said this won’t necessarily lead to more DUII arrests, but will help hold drivers impaired under other substances accountable.

“Sometimes we take somebody who’s clearly impaired. They do not register anything under a breathalyzer. So they have a blood test and that toxicology panel doesn’t show a controlled substance, but they were clearly impaired. So what was making them impaired is what this tries to get at,” Miller said. 

Bend police made 602 DUII arrests in 2023, down from 692 the year before. While those numbers may look encouraging, one troubling statistic surprised Miller.

“About 18%, so almost one in five of our DUII’s are arrested between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. So out when you’re on the road, most likely going to and from work, when kids are in school buses or are walking on the sidewalks,” Miller said.

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Miller also says the decrease of arrests may not be due to fewer impaired drivers. It could be because of personnel, the number of different calls officers are responding to and the time they’re given to look for DUIIs. 

Fifteen of 2023’s DUII arrestees had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .30% or higher, nearly four times the legal limit. That level of intoxication is so high that Deschutes County Jail will not accept them without medical clearance from St. Charles Medical Center.

Of the 602 arrests, 198 required telephonic search warrants, which officers apply for when an arrestee declines to consent to a breathalyzer or blood draw, asks for an attorney, or whose breathalyzer test is not consistent with the level of impairment.

“They’re called ‘telephonic’ because we call a judge, no matter the time of day,” Miller said. “We ask them to read the search warrant and approve it. Once that’s done, the person is compelled to take a breathalyzer or a blood draw.”

Here is a full break down of the statistics from Bend Police.

Officers made the most arrests between the hours of 12 a.m. and 1 a.m., but DUIIs were recorded at all hours. Of the 602 DUII arrests in 2023, 108 (18 percent) were made between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

  • 50 registered a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .01 to .07 (8 percent of all arrests)
  • 178 registered a BAC of .08 to .14 (30 percent)
  • 122 registered a BAC of .15 to .19 (20 percent)
  • 119 registered a BAC of .20 and above (20 percent) Of those in the BAC range of .20% or higher, 47 were arrested between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. That’s nearly 40 percent. 
  • 60 had only drugs in their system (10 percent) 
  • The remainder are pending lab results.
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