Texting while driving is unlawful in Oregon under ORS 811.507. According to the Wall Street Journal, at least 46 states have laws barring texting while driving and 14 ban all hand-held devices. Some states may be looking at adopting a "Textalyzer" in order to determine if people have been "texting" (sending or receiving text messages) prior to being stopped, or prior to crashing. Cellebrite's Textalyzer An Israel-based tech company named Cellebrite is purportedly the first to develop a plug-in device which can examine a driver's cell phone to detect texting activity. Legislation in New York-- called "Evan’s Law"-- has been introduced in the New York Legislature over the winter of 2016-2107. It would give police officers the authority to use a Textalyzer when distracted driving is suspected. Similar legislation is being considered in Tennessee, New Jersey and the city of Chicago. Cellebrite claims that it's technology does not raise privacy concerns because it's designed only to determine usage, not to actually access the messages for viewing. In theory, if the police determined that a mobile device was used by the driver, they could confirm it using the Textalyzer and then determine whether they should get a warrant for more detailed information. Currently, Oregon does not have any pending legislation mandating or even allowing use of a device such as the Cellebrite Textalyzer.
Many social drinkers wonder if any amount of drinking before driving soon be outlawed. Will Oregon lower the legal DUI limit to .05? The legal limit for DUI in Oregon is currently .08 BAC. From time to time, there is talk in other states around the country about lowering the legal limit for DUI down to .05 BAC or even .04 BAC. Commercial truck drivers in the United States are already prohibited from driving with a BAC of .04 greater. Also, several European countries have a presumptive limit of .05 BAC (most notably France and Germany). As of January 2017, there is the possibility that Utah may lower it's legal limit to .05. But at the present time, it does not look likely that Oregon will be reducing the DUI legal limit to .05 or .04 for non-commercial drivers. A couple other points should be noted about the .05 standard used in much of Europe. An average-bodied man having about three drinks in a social drinking setting could go over a .05 BAC. An average-bodied woman could easily reach .05 BAC with only two drinks. This is important to mention because we are not talking about a violent alcoholic drinking all night long on an empty stomach in order to obtain a .05 BAC before driving around recklessly. We are talking about "normal" people having a few drinks with friends while having dinner at a restaurant, and then later stopped and accused of being unable to drive safely. Lastly, when people advocate for a lowing of the blood alcohol limits in Oregon or anywhere else in the country, it's a safe bet they are not going to stop once they reach a given number (.05, .04, [...]
Many driver's who want to drink but still want to drive home safe ask, "Can I Get a DUI Under a .08 BAC in Oregon?" In short, yes. You can be charged with DUI even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is below a .08. There are multiple ways for the government to prove DUI in Oregon. Some of the methods of proof involve drugs ("controlled substances"), others involve only alcohol ("intoxicating liquor"), and some involve combination of drugs and alcohol. When people refer to the "legal limit," they are referring to the .08 BAC that Oregon has standardized as the blood alcohol level at which everyone is presumed to be intoxicated and impaired by alcohol. This means that everyone at a .08 BAC is assumed to be drunk, intoxicated, and impaired-- regardless of their sex, body type, or tolerance for alcohol. The NHTSA has advocated for the .08 BAC standard nationwide and continues to do so. Some City Attorneys and County District Attorneys in Oregon will still charge a DUI under .08. It's not uncommon to see prosecutors charge DUIs at .07, .06, .05, and even .04 BACs. This is because law enforcement believes that most drivers are negatively affected-- mentally or physically-- well-before a .08 BAC. This article from OregonLive.com (although a bit dated from 2011) explains how many in Oregon law enforcement view DUIs under .08. Believe it or not, there is some good news for drivers stopped, investigated, and arrested for DUI under .08. A breath test reading below .08 will not typically result in an administrative driver's license suspension. This type of suspension-- called an "Implied Consent suspension" can often result in a 90-day, 1-year, or even 3-year driver's license [...]
The marijuana breathalyzer is a device designed to work much like an alcohol breathalyzer. In theory, the test subject blows into the device. The device then reports whether or not the test subject is under the influence of marijuana. However, the current devices cannot measure impairment. They can only estimate the level of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol; the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) on a test subject's breath. Image from Hound Labs used under Fair Use doctrine. Hound Labs Marijuana Breathalyzer Hound Labs Inc. is an Oakland-based company that has introduced a hand-held portable device that measures the presence of THC in breath. The device is intended to be used roadside by law enforcement. The device requires two breath samples from the test subject (much like Oregon's Intoxilyzer 8000). The Hound Labs breathalyzer was developed in partnership with scientists at the University of California, Berkeley and it was designed to detect impairment from any recent THC consumption (smoking, vaping, or edibles). The company boasts that it's the first company to create a device capable of detecting and measuring THC in breath. They further claim that the device can accurately measure levels to below 500 picograms. The problem with this sort of claim is that it has absolutely nothing to do with whether someone is mentally or physically impaired because people will be affected differently by THC and the level of expelled THC from test subjects will also vary wildly. Image from Cannabix Technologies used under Fair Use doctrine. Cannabix Technologies Marijuana Breathalyzer Cannabix Technologies Inc. is a Vancouver, B.C. based company that has also developed a marijuana breathalyzer. Cannabix claims that the use of FAIMS (high-field asymmetric waveform ion mobility spectrometry) can detect trace amounts of THC. However, as of the writing [...]