David J. Celuch
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When a DUII is a felony

Oregon law enforcement pulls over a vehicle that is weaving between lanes, and an officer discovers that the driver is intoxicated. The prosecutor charges the driver with driving while under the influence of intoxicants, and the judge issues a conviction. According to the Oregon Revised Statute 813.010, in many cases, this is a Class A misdemeanor conviction. However, sometimes it is a Class C felony. 

What makes some cases different?

The 10-year timeframe

ORS 813.011 explains that once a person receives a DUII misdemeanor conviction, the clock starts ticking. A second conviction is still a misdemeanor, but if a third conviction occurs within 10 years of the first, it will be a felony.

If a person receives a conviction for operating a boat or an aircraft while under the influence of intoxicants, that also counts as a DUII conviction. 

A similar conviction in another jurisdiction

Maybe the driver is on vacation and receives a DUI conviction in another state. That state's laws and penalties are different, but the statute is the counterpart of ORS 813.010. That conviction is considered toward the number of DUI convictions in Oregon, whether first, second or subsequent.

There is a caveat to this, though. Say the driver is in another jurisdiction and is under the age of 21. His or her blood alcohol content is below the BAC limit for those 21 and older (probably 0.08 percent), but that jurisdiction has a zero tolerance limit. The conviction will still go on the driver's record, but it does not count toward the three that add up to a felony.

A first felony

If a person is convicted of that first felony, but it has been more than 10 years since then, a subsequent conviction is still a felony

 

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