Oregon Magazine

Oregon Drunk Driving
Laws Getting Tougher

by Fred Delkin

   Our state legislators continue to create restrictions to keep us from endangering ours and others' lives when we imbibe alcohol before piloting a vehicle.  Latest restriction is installation of an ignition monitor on a convicted DUII offender's vehicle that detects alcohol on a driver's breath and prevents firing up the engine.  Thus, DUII offenders cannot repeat their offense and they pay the cost of that safeguard, which rivals the price of a GPS system.  

We've mentioned before in this space that our driving statutes are less punishing than those in a majority of other nations.  China is rapidly becoming the home of more private vehicle ownership than any other land, save the USA, but any DUII arrest there results in a driving license loss for five years, or forever, if any injuries to others result.  This regulation was enacted in 2010, and it works...DUII incidents have shrunk 27.6% over the past year, despite the spiraling growth of civilian drivers.  

Here in the land of the free and home of the brave, all 50 states now enforce a blood alcohol content of .08, and in the past five years, this is cited as a primary reason why DUII offenses have declined by over 15% nationally in the past five years...still, the USA averages over 13,000 deaths per annum from the 35% of all traffic fatalities related to alcohol impairment.  The National Traffic Safety Institute estimates the current fiscal total of DUII accident property & medical costs at $50 billion+ annually, so legislative efforts are certainly justified.  

Super Bowl weekend is upon us, and a national celebration that will ramp up traffic law enforcement.  Here in Oregon, a law officer needs only confirmation of alcohol consumption by his ticketing object, even if that driver blows below a .08 reading...an increased incentive to avoid fermented liquid if you are driving.  

Note that a 120-pound female can reach .08 BAC on only two drinks (beer, wine or cocktail) in an hour.  A 180-pound male usually requires four drinks to get to that BAC level.  However, impairment begins before one approches .08.  That ol' debbil booze slows your reaction time after only a single drink.  Your level of alertness declines, concentration on the demands of driving suffers and there is just no way you can justify drinking before driving.  That car, truck, cycle or boat is worth your total piloting attention.  And, of course, we've previously counted up just the financial penalties elicited by a DUII.  It just isn't worth the risk, so celebrate or mourn your favorite team's fate by driving sober.  

Designated drivers and public conveniances are available to keep your pledge of Seatbelts & Sobriety!!

© 2012 Oregon Magazine