The holiday season is drawing to a close. New Year’s Eve is here. But it is not too late for a reminder that, amid the celebrations, tonight and tomorrow will be especially dangerous times to be on Oregon and Washington’s roads and highways.
Police across the region will be stepping up enforcement, as they always do at this time of year. But activists, local organizations media and law enforcement have joined forces to offer area residents and visitors a variety of safe and affordable ways to help people celebrate, and return home, safely (see links below).
As KGW-TV notes on their website “TriMet officials say all public transportation will be free after 8pm. That includes the Portland Streetcar. MAX trains will run until 3am.” Bars throughout Old Town will be offering $20 taxi coupons. These will also be available from police officers and security guards patrolling in the Old Town area.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s website offers discount codes for Uber and Lyft bookings. The Statesman-Journal newspaper reports that the ride-booking services will be available in Salem this holiday weekend after a recent regulatory change enacted by the city council. Across the river in Vancouver, C-TRAN services will be free on The Vine and Route 60 from 6pm onwards.
Still, as the Executive Director of Oregon Impact, one of the groups organizing these programs, told KGW, planning ahead is essential. “Once you’ve started drinking, if you’re out celebrating, it’s not a great time to figure out how to get home.”
As outlined in ORS 813.010 (“Driving under the influence of intoxicants”) Oregon drunk driving is defined as operating a vehicle while having “0.08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in the blood as shown by chemical analysis of the breath or blood.” ORS 813.100 stipulates that operating a vehicle in Oregon implies consent to a breath test (implied consent is also the law in Washington, per RCW 46.20.308). It is worth emphasizing that the legal definition of impaired driving is broader than simply alcohol. Sections 1(b) and 1(c) of the Oregon law extend its provisions to any “controlled substance or inhalant” whether separately or in combination with alcohol. Anyone serving alcohol tonight – whether in a restaurant or bar or at a private party – should also keep in mind Oregon’s dram shop and social host laws. These extend legal responsibility for the damage drunk drivers do to the people who sold or served them the alcohol if the responsible driver was visibly intoxicated.
As a Portland drunk driving victims attorney practicing in both Oregon and Washington I always view this time of year with a certain amount of trepidation. Along with their useful coupon codes and public transport information, the articles linked below offer several tragic stories outlining the human cost of other people’s irresponsible behavior. They are worth taking a few minutes to read and think about.
Here’s wishing everyone a safe beginning to the New Year, and a prosperous 2018.
Portland Bureau of Transportation – New Year’s Eve Information
Salem Statesman-Journal: Celebrate the holidays safely this year; have Uber, Lyft apps on your phone