By WILLIAM FRANCIS
Often, fairness is all a person charged with DUI needs to prevail.
Not every case needs to be resolved in a trial. Some cases should be dismissed. Some can be resolved in a plea.
Unfortunately, in Oregon, a DUI case cannot be "pled down" to a lesser charge. While our neighboring states frequently offer a lesser charge of "wet reckless," as an alternative to a DUI, this option isn't available in Oregon.
And, in Oregon, diversion often is an unattractive option for many because it requires a person charged with a DUI to admit that he or she committed a crime. After a person enters diversion, the record of the arrest and the guilty plea to the DUI can never be expunged. For many professionals, including commercial drivers, pilots, military personnel, and others, a record of a DUI diversion is not an acceptable option. For these reasons and others, there are many who experience the unfairness of having a permanent, criminal record for a first-offense DUI.
Sometimes, the only way to make the system work fairly is to take a case to trial.
Juries are bound by the law to presume a defendant's innocence. At trial, a defendant has the right to confront witnesses and the force the government to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Evidence can be excluded if it was obtained by police improperly or unlawfully. These are the protections guaranteed by the United States Constitution.