DUII covers more than just alcohol offenses

I fail to understand why "drunk driving" is always called "DUII." How did this come about? Why not call a spade a spade? DUII in my book makes no reference at all to drunk driving. Can you please explain?

Secondly, please list the fines and or jail sentences for first and second offenders. Thanks for enlightening many of us.

— R. Andy A., Phoenix

Always happy to enlighten, Mr. A.

Really quick, though: what is this book you're talking about? Did you write it? Is it good? Can we have an autographed copy? Anyway ...

As you probably know, DUII is short for "driving under the influence of intoxicants," meaning that impaired drivers could be under the influence of a variety of intoxicants, not just booze.

"Other drugs are now more and more common," said Lt. Mike Budreau of Medford police, adding prescription drugs, cannabis, methamphetamine and heroin have all contributed to drunk driving crashes.

"Now we literally have people who are so drunk, they crash their car and can barely walk, and they have no alcohol in their system," he said.

The police have drug recognition efforts, or DREs, which use a series of tests to pin down the specific substance that led to a crash.

"They all present different signs and symptoms, but they all will impair the person's ability to drive," Budreau said.

Sentencing-wise, there's a lot more leniency for first-time offenders if they didn't injure or kill anyone. If it's your first offense, no one was hurt, and you don't have a commercial driver's license, you have the option to take a diversion program or drug and alcohol treatment classes.

You have to plead guilty to the crime, but if you complete the diversion program, the court will dismiss the case.

If you don't complete the class within one year, the state would ask for two years of bench probation, you'd still have to go to treatment, receive a 1-year driver's license suspension, a $1,000 fine and up to 20 days in jail.

And it only goes up from there. Second-time offenders get probation, the treatment program, a 3-year driver's license suspension, 30 days in jail and $1,500 fine.

"That can change depending on the facts of the case," said Nick Geil, deputy district attorney for the Jackson County District Attorney's Office.

Drivers who receive a third conviction are looking at a permanent revocation of their license and could be charged with a felony DUII, which could land them 90 days in jail or up to a year in state prison.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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