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(DUII Release Conditions -- The New Prohibition?)
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Revision as of 12:24, June 12, 2013
This morning Judge Henry Kantor was handling Multnomah County misdemeanor arraignments in JC4 (Justice Center courtroom #4). Most Multnomah County judges at DUII arraignments will say, "standard DUII release conditions." That phrase traditionally means (1) "No Driving without a valid license and insurance," and (2) "No use of any intoxicant when operating a motor vehicle." A minority of judges had replaced item (2) with "No possession or use of any intoxicant." The word "intoxicant" is problematic and worthy of its own post (what about prescription medications? Prescription pain-killers?), but here I'll deal with whether Prohibition is an appropriate release condition for every run-of-the-mill DUII. As the question implies, it of course is not. I was not expecting Judge Kantor to have joined forces with the Prohibition crowd, but he had (No drinking, "and that includes July 4th!" His Honor iterated). I made a brief record relating Sexson v. Merten, 291 Or 441 (1981), a case that required -- for a Prohibition condition to be imposed -- "an alcohol problem, as would appear from the record" in the individual case. 291 Or at 450. Here's the rub: not everybody who picks up a DUII has an alcohol problem. In fact, the state has an army of evaluators ready to determine whether your client has an alcohol problem or not. In my case today, it was not a battle worth taking up on mandamus. So what is the right case? It should (a) be DUII Diversion eligible; (b) involve a relatively low breath test, .05-.07% BAC is ideal, but even up to .14% would be OK -- at .14% and under evaluators do not presume an alcohol problem. In any event, it is virtually always worth making a record about. Why? First, someday a client will want to mandamus. Second, some judges will back down after a discussion of Sexson and the exculpatory facts in your particular DUII case (first arrest, never in trouble with the law before, low breath test, coming back from religious observance or other socially acceptable drinking scenario [Oregon State Bar function?]), and impose a less onerous condition. I'd suggest: "No use of alcohol in connection with the use of a vehicle." Finally, I should note that the release statutes underlying Sexson have been amended since 1981 to include more explicit protection for victims as part of the victim rights rounds of legislation -- but I don't believe those amendments affect the logic of Sexson: to impose a Prohibition condition, you've got to have a demonstrated alcohol problem based on the facts of the case or the defendant's history. In other words, blanket Prohibition for all first-time DUII arrestee's does not pass muster.