The Timeline of a DUII Arrest

Interviewer: When people are arrested for DUII, what are the timelines? I don’t even know if they’re aware that they’re facing criminal charges and driver’s license suspension. What are the timelines for both, how long to their first criminal court appearance and how long do they have to do something about their driver’s license to stop it from being suspended?

Contesting Your License Suspension: Ten Days to Request a Hearing

Shannon: Your arraignment, which is your first appearance, on the charge, if it’s a misdemeanor DUII, it’s most likely going to be 30 days out. And for the DMV hearing, contesting the suspension of your driver’s license, you have ten days to request it and I’ve seen it be set anywhere from a week after you request it till a month after requesting it. And oftentimes if it’s set later it’s because of some sort of error by the department. I will have requested a hearing on behalf of my client that the department forgot to schedule it or they schedule it during a conflict, so they have to reschedule.

So even if they have to reschedule past that date where your temporary license expires, you’ll still have your driving privileges until the decision of the hearing because of the department error. So you have ten days to request a hearing after your arrest, and you usually have that administrative hearing anywhere from a week after request to 30 days. Usually the first appearance is usually exactly 30 days. Now if it’s a felony that kind of changes things because there are rights to a preliminary hearing.

The Administrative Hearing Has Benefits for the Criminal Trial

Interviewer: For misdemeanor DUI, it sounds like the criminal first appearance is further out in time than the license one. So I would think that that would confuse people and they might sit around and wait until it’s too late to dispute their license problems. Now they’re in trouble that way no matter what happens on the criminal side.

Shannon: Right. And the real benefit, I think a lot of my colleagues would agree with me, is that you do have a benefit in contesting the suspension of the driving privileges. And there is a chance that you will prevail. It is a difficult standard to meet, it’s only preponderance of the evidence at the administrative hearing, but still the real benefit comes from being able to speak with the officer while they’re under oath. You also get access to the police report, probably far before you would have access to it in the criminal proceedings. So you kind of get a jump start on the evidence, you get a jump start on meeting the officer face-to-face, and getting to cross examine them while under oath. We can request an audio copy of that hearing after it happens and we can also get that transcribed, so in preparing for your criminal it’s a real gem.

Interviewer: Not only is it important to preserve your driver’s license for obvious reasons, but that also gives you ammunition and a sense of what might happen on the criminal side of it to prepare better for it.

Shannon: That’s definitely true.

Studying the Police Report

Interviewer: And then when people are arrested, you mentioned that police make a report. How often do people tell you that the police report is accurate or inaccurate, and different from what they perceived happened?

Shannon: I would probably say it’s about 50/50. Some people go through every single thing in the report with a fine toothcomb. Then there are some people that completely agree with what the officer wrote.

I don’t know if that’s a personality difference among people but I’m sure there are discrepancies on how things happened. This is because there are two different people observing the same thing. Everybody is going to have a different take on how things unfolded. But I think, more importantly, especially in these DMV proceedings, you’re going to be able to get the officer to admit differences in what they actually wrote and what they’re now testifying to. This is because they are required to follow certain procedures and they have manuals that they have to follow.

So, oftentimes your attorney will take those files up to the administrative proceedings and question the officer on the procedures. The officer knows they are under oath and they know that they’re supposed to follow these procedures and they’ll want to make sure that their testimony under oath complies with those mandates.

Cross Examining the Arresting Officer

And you can point out to the officer and the administrative law judge that while the officer wrote it down that it happened this way, and now you’re saying that it happened this way. So now you’re showing the judge and the officer that their testimony has changed. And the more discrepancies you can find in the officer’s testimony in the hearing and the police report the better for the criminal case.

Interviewer: I guess it changes the playing field of police officer and the defendant and it makes it maybe more equal. At least they now have more of a chance because the police officer’s statements may not be 100 percent, so you can kind of poke holes in what they’re saying.

Shannon: Exactly. You can take the police report that was written closer in time to the actual events and you can take the officer’s testimony, which is going to be anywhere from 17 to 30 to 35 days out from the date of arrest and now they’ve changed their testimony. You can hint to the fact that they’ve changed their testimony and there’s a reason for it. So if they changed their testimony now, who’s to say their initial testimony was right. And to present that to a decision-maker, a judge or a jury, I think that does sway in favor of the defendant.

Document Every Event During and After the Arrest

Interviewer: How about the person themselves? I know that they probably don’t want to relive what happened, but it sounds like it would be a good idea for them to write down what happened during their arrest, and what happened afterwards.

Shannon: I think that also goes to what we were talking about earlier, the sooner you can speak to an attorney the better. This is because oftentimes I will ask the same questions. Such as when did you last sleep, what did you eat, what is your medical history, if you’re comfortable sharing that, who were you with, if the witnesses would potentially be available, the performance, the maintenance of your vehicle, your vehicles usual performance, everything that could be a contributing factor to your behavior or what the officer observed, everything before and after.

But a better idea is to meet with an attorney, and bring that journal so that they attorney can actually ask you additional questions. There’s a legal basis for asking those questions and they can help plan your defense.

I don’t think that your every day person could think of everything that would come into play in your criminal case. So an attorney can help you create that statement, so the sooner you can meet with them the better. Even if it were for an initial consultation like we talked about before, at least they’d call to your attention some things that would either strengthen or weaken your case.

Interviewer: Actually, you have three offices right? One in Portland, one in Oregon City and Salem, is that correct?

Shannon: Yes.

Different Cities Have Different Methods and Different Penalties for DUII

Interviewer: How are people treated differently, if at all, in those three areas when they’re arrested for DUI, or even the enforcement of it, do you see any differences?

Shannon: I definitely do. Especially when you head out to some of the other areas. Here’s a good example, I’ll use Tillamook County. If you are charged with a DUII, and it’s your first time, and you have a passenger in your car. Not only are you going to be charged with DUII, but you might also be charged with reckless endangering and reckless driving. So now you’re facing three criminal charges for essentially one act.

And if that were to happen in Wallowa County, you would be charged with reckless driving probably and DUII, but if you entered the diversion program you could get the charge reduced and if you complete diversion successfully, they’ll dismiss the reckless driving at the end of the year, too.

But if you were in Tillamook County, chances are that they are going to want to go ahead and convict you of the reckless driving along with the DUI diversion. So different counties in Oregon handle things completely differently.

And then, hypothetically speaking, say you had a DUII and a possession charge, such as methamphetamine or something illegal. Some courts allow you to participate in a drug court program on that charge along with your diversion entry and some courts do not. And you’ll have to enter a plea on your possession charge because they don’t have drug court available.

Interviewer: So the rural areas are not more strict or the city ones are less strict, it’s just every county is different and probably every jurisdiction in Oregon treats the offenders differently, right?

Shannon: Not only is every county different but also within those counties there’s different judges that handle things differently. Some may be more likely to allow certain things and not allow other things.

Where This Attorney Practices

Interviewer: Can you name some jurisdictions or courts that you appear in frequently?

Shannon: I regularly appear in Marion, in Clackamas, in Polk County, in Multnomah, in Linn County and Lane County and Tillamook County. I used to practice in Lincoln County. I’ve handles cases in Columbia County and Washington County, Deschutes County, Jefferson County. Anywhere.

Shannon I. Wilson, Esq.

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