Oregon Court of Appeals clarifies DUII laws

The Oregonian has this story:

On Wednesday the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled a person who, in the past, voluntarily entered an alcohol rehabilitation program does not lose the opportunity to enter a diversion program to avoid a record showing a conviction for driving under the influence of intoxicants, or DUII.

After successful completion of the state’s one-year diversion program, the driver’s record reads “diversion” rather than “DUII” and the driver keeps his/her license. Drivers are only allowed one diversion every 10 years.

The case before the court involved a driver who had entered rehab on her own eight years earlier but failed to finish the program, and now was seeking entrance into the diversion program. The court held failing to complete a rehab program does not prevent a drunk driver from entering the program.

The court heard two other cases and made the following rulings:

• A police officer can remain in the room when a suspect is making a phone call after an arrest.

A woman made a phone call to a friend who was an attorney while an officer was in the room at a police station. The attorney did not practice criminal law and recommended that she call another lawyer. The woman refused to take the breath test, resulting in an automatic license suspension. She appealed, claiming she was denied a reasonable opportunity to communicate with counsel.

The court rejected her argument, ruling that an arrested driver’s right to communicate privately with an attorney applies only in criminal proceedings, not to state Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division administrative proceedings, which include the automatic suspension.

• A reliable tip about a possible DUII is enough to stop a driver before leaving a restaurant.

In a Washington County case, the court overturned a decision by Circuit Judge Timothy Alexander, ruling that police were justified in stopping a woman from driving after restaurant workers reported she appeared to be intoxicated.

Alexander had ruled the stop was illegal, but the appeals court rejected his reasoning that police lacked reasonable suspicion based on the restaurant workers’ observations.

“What those witnesses knew and whether their conclusions were reasonable is immaterial,” the court said in its opinion. The police had more than enough information “to stop defendant based on a reliable citizen informant’s report,” the court said.