If you’ve been arrested or cited for DUI, there may be several ways to dismiss your Oregon DUI case:
- No charges filed. Technically, this isn’t a “dismissal” because actual DUI charges would never be filed. However, there may be certain situations in which an Oregon prosecutor might receive a police report detailing a DUI investigation, but the prosecutor might nevertheless choose not to file. Examples of this might be investigations in which: (a) evidence of impairment by drugs or alcohol is lacking, (b) there is limited or contradictory evidence as to who the driver of a suspect vehicle was, (c) the police didn’t see actual driving by the suspect and can’t prove when (or if) the suspect drove, or (d) there is a legal problem with the case (such as an unlawful stop, a violation of the suspect’s statutory or constitutional rights, or perhaps the driving was on private property not open to the public).
- Convince the local District Attorney’s Office not to file a case. Contrary to what is seen in movies or legal t.v. shows, it’s rather unusual for the defense attorney (even a very good defense attorney) to be able to call a prosecutor on the phone or stop them in the halls of the courthouse and convince the prosecutor not to file a given DUI case. Typically, if a prosecutor has evidence for a DUI case, they will file it. However, there may me limited situations in which a prosecutor can be convinced to dismiss a case, and they would usually be the same reasons a prosecutor shouldn’t have filed a case in the first place (see above).
- Convince the local District Attorney’s Office to dismiss the case. This is also a scenario where movies or legal t.v. shows may be a bit misleading. We’ve all seen the shows where the skilled defense attorney tells the prosecutor that their case is weak, that the defense attorney is smarter or better than the prosecutor, and the defense attorney suggests that the prosecutor better simply dismiss the case because they are going to lose. As an experienced former prosecutor and current Oregon DUI attorney, I can tell you it doesn’t work this way. In fact, most of the time when a prosecutor is told that they can’t win, it just makes them want to prove that they can. It’s almost like a challenge. Now, in rare situations, a knowledgeable DUI attorney may be able to show a prosecutor that their case has factual or legal problems, and the prosecutor may be convinced or forced to dismiss the case. It’s important to note that, in Oregon, prosecutors cannot dismiss DUI charges in return for pleas to other charges. In some states, DUI charges can be dismissed or plead down to a “wet reckless.” Oregon actually has a statute specifically prohibiting this.
- Motion to Suppress. A Motion to Suppress is a legal challenge to a case– before trial– which could result in unlawfully obtained evidence being suppressed or excluded at trial. If a prosecutor can’t be convinced to dismiss a DUI case with a factual or legal problem, the prosecutor may be forced to dismiss the case after a ruling from the court if the prosecutor’s evidence is so limited that the prosecutor cannot obtain a conviction. For example, if the stop of a driver’s vehicle is found to be unlawful, the whole case would likely be thrown out. If the evidence of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests was found to be unlawfully obtained, the prosecutor may lose nearly all of his evidence of impairment. If the breath test evidence from the Intoxilyzer 8000 was unlawfully obtained or flawed, the prosecutor might lose all of his evidence of a BAC greater than .08.
- Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Speedy Trial. This is a long-shot because most DUI cases in Oregon are resolved within a reasonable time-frame, but if your case is delayed an unreasonable amount of time, your attorney may be able to file a motion which could cause the case to be dismissed for violating your statutory or constitutional rights to a speedy trial. It’s important to note that, as of 2014, the statutory right to a speedy trial may be eliminated by pending legislation.
- Acquittal. An acquittal is not technically a “dismissal,” but the legal effect is very similar. If you were to try a DUI case in Oregon to a judge or jury, and if you were found “not guilty” and acquitted, the charges would be dismissed with prejudice and the DUI case could not be filed again.
- Diversion. This is how the overwhelming majority of DUI cases in Oregon are dismissed. For more on Oregon’s DUI diversion program, please see our dedicated page.