Avoid Criminal Charges When Coming to the Oregon Coast

Rachel N. Marshall, Attorney At Law Profile Image

Rachel N. Marshall, Attorney At Law

Newport, OR

Practice Areas

DUI and DWI, Family, SSDI, Criminal Defense, Divorce

Many tourists visit the Oregon Coast during the summer and holiday vacations. If you plan to have fun here I would

recommend that you beware of the following local practices of our law enforcement.


DUII - The typical scenario is someone comes to the coast and attends the Newport Seafood and Wine Festival and samples the local wine, or has a nice dinner at one of our local restaurants and has a couple of drinks and then makes their way back to their hotel and gets stopped by law enforcement. First you have to know that local police often target many of the bars and hotels and wait or park outside looking for people who exit the restaurants or bars and have trouble getting into their car (maybe stumbling) or someone who commits some minor traffic violation leaving the bar or restaurant or the festival. Just because you are only travelling a few blocks to your hotel will not be an excuse to avoid being detained by the police, pulled out of your car, and asked to do field sobriety tests.

FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS:

An officer will first come to your window and say they smell alcohol or marijuana. Their police reports will often say they noticed blood shot and watery eyes and that the driver fumbled with their license, registration and insurance card. I would advise to always keep these documents handy and organized and together in one place where you can grab them easily. If they are in an envelope or wallet or some other container you will be asked to get them out so the officer can easily read them, again this is another observation that the officer will claim led to the conclusion that you were somehow impaired and could not drive. An officer must have a reason to pull your over, usually that is bad driving or some traffic offense or perhaps a complaint is made by a citizen or the bar tender that you left the restaurant after drinking and appeared impaired. An officer can pull you over and ask about traffic violations for instance, why you didn't put on your blinker or why you were crossing the fog line etc. At this point you do not have to answer any of those questions. You can simply say "I am exercising my right to remain silent". No further questioning can occur after that by the officer(s) unless you initiate and begin offering statements on your own. All statements you make during any DUII stop will be used against you to prove your guilt. The officer must advise you that the encounter is being recorded. You can refuse to have the encounter recorded. Just say officer I do want to be recorded. Of couse, a recording of the incident can sometimes be helpful as driver's rarely remember what ocurred.


The officer must then have probable cause to detain you further. If he asks you to get out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tests - ask if you are free to leave at that point. Most people fail the field sobriety tests even if they are not that intoxicated. They are very difficult to do. You do not have to perform the field sobriety tests. You can refuse. If you do refuse, the only consequence is that evidence of your refusal can be used at a trial by the prosecutor to tell the jury that you must have refused because you were intoxicated so there is somewhat of an inference that the prosecutor will get to use at trial to convince the jury that your refusal was evidence of your being guilty of DUII. The officer must advise you of that at the time of your stop. Most people never go to trial on a DUII, however, if you fail the field sobriety tests, and that will most likely be on video and shown to the jury, the jury can use that to find you guilty. There is no license suspension or other consequence for refusing the FSTs. However ,failing them will give the officer probable cause to arrest you. At the time of arrest, when you are no longer free to leave the scene, the officer must give you Miranda warnings and advise you that any statements you make can be used against you in court and that you have a right to have an attorney to assist you. Usually the officer, by the time you are under arrest, has already questioned you extensively and has asked you basically every question they need to prove you are intoxicated and guilty of DUII, that is why exercising your right to remain silent can be advantageous. You do have to provide identification information and your license, registration and proof of insurance. Exercising your right to remain silent cannot be used against you as "not being cooperative".


BREATH TEST, URINE TEST, BLOOD TEST


If you refuse or fail a breath test your license will be suspended. A breath test result of .08 or greater will result in a 90 day license suspension unless for other reasons that is enhanced. If you refuse a breath test it is a one year license suspension. So always consent to any breath, urine or blood test. Before taking the breath, urine, or blood test you have a right to contact an attorney and consult with an attorney. If you request to speak with an attorney, the officer will give you a phone book and put you in room to give you a chance to call an attorney. Obviously at 2am no one is going to be available to take your call. Actually, I do often take calls from the jail at all hours if I am available.


DRE

After you get to the jail, if the officer suspects some sort of controlled substance, you will be asked to perform the Field Sobriety tests again at the jail and you will be examined by a DRE officer who is trained in controlled substance detection. There is no consequence for refusing to perform a DRE. However, if you fail the DRE examination that will be further evidence the prosecutor will use to convict you of DUII.


Avoid all this by calling a cab. Yaquina Cab 541-265-9522. Please note they are not available at early morning hours so if you plan to be out late driving and are going to restaurants or a bar or a party make sure you have someone you can call to come pick you up if you have a few too many drinks. Enjoy your vacation, get plenty of snacks and take out if you plan to drink and enjoy your room (hopefully with a view) without driving after drinking. This information is intended as general information regarding the local police practices. You should always consult with an attorney about your rights when charged with a crime.

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