According to Responsibility.org, 47 states and the District of Columbia have laws in place to discourage and penalize individuals who jeopardize the welfare of children under the age of 18. These laws aim to prevent adults from driving under the influence with young people in the vehicle. Oregon is one of these states. 42 states have laws that mandate enhanced penalties for DUI convictions that involve a child passenger. Again, Oregon is one of them.
Child endangerment laws, as lawmakers often refer to these laws as, recognize the gravity of an adult putting a child, or a person who is otherwise unable to protect him or herself, in harm’s way by operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance. These laws dictate a punishment more severe than what standard DUI laws mandate.
Moreover, these laws also create a distinct charge for the drunk driver. If convicted, a guilty person may face two convictions and increased penalties. In many instances, the courts will consider the presence of a child passenger at the time of a DUI stop as an aggravating factor. In 2016, Oregon police officers arrested 14,282 individuals for driving under the influence.
Per Oregon Statute 813.010, an officer may arrest a person for driving under the influence if the driver is under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, an inhalant or another controlled substance. An adult must have a BAC of .08 or greater for an officer to arrest him or her for driving under the influence of liquor.
In a normal situation, meaning one that does not involve minor passengers, a conviction of driving under the influence of an intoxicant is a Class A misdemeanor. Such a conviction carries a minimum fine of $1,000. However, if a child passenger is present at the time of arrest, the court may impose a fine of up to $10,000.