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The Court Process for an OUI in Maine






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Jul 20, 2023

The Court Process for an OUI in Maine

The Court Process for Maine OUI Laws

The term used for driving under the influence in Maine is OUI (Operating Under the Influence), but whatever term you use, an appearance before a judge is almost inevitable if you are charged with a criminal offense.

The OUI laws in Maine are just as strict as other states when it comes to drunk driving, and it will help to know the court processes here if you have to navigate the criminal justice system. For many people, a DUI is their first brush with the law, and it can be intimidating if you don’t know what to expect.

Defendants are unsure what to do next, whether to plead guilty, what the potential consequences are, when they can get their car back and so on.

Here, we take a close look at the court process for OUI charges in Maine so that anyone stopped and accused by the police of operating a vehicle under the influence knows what to expect next.

The OUI traffic stop

Most OUI charges begin with a traffic stop. You can be pulled over and asked if you’ve been drinking if “signs of impairment” are observed or if you pass through a roadside sobriety checkpoint.

“Signs of impairment” include the failure to stay in lane, failure to engage a turn signal, driving too slow, swerving within the lane, and so on. This may provide reasonable suspicion that an offense has been committed, which the officer will look to corroborate by detecting other signs, such as smells of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, etc.

You may also be asked to perform a standardized field sobriety test (SFST). This is (allegedly) designed to test your level of impairment and you do not need to agree to the test (it cannot later count as a “refusal” for mandatory sentencing enhancement by a court).

If the officer has probable cause to believe that you are impaired, you will be arrested and taken to a local Maine police station for a chemical test.

Read More → 3 Ways for Avoiding an OUI Traffic Stop

OUI Blood, breath and urine testing

Chemical tests in Maine are blood, breath or urine tests that measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC). These have varying degrees of accuracy and must be performed according to specific procedures, or the evidence may be inadmissible.

In Maine, if you refuse a chemical test, you will be charged with OUI Refusal. This is treated much the same as an OUI conviction — but with even more severe mandatory minimum penalties, such as longer license suspension and longer jail terms.

The Arrest

Failing or refusing a chemical test will likely lead to your arrest. Your Miranda Rights may be read in certain circumstances and the best advice at this point is to say as little as possible — until you can speak to your OUI attorney. Simply provide the necessary personal information and avoid answering any further questions.

Background checks are made, and mug shots/fingerprints are taken. Your personal property will be seized, and you will be placed in a holding cell — usually for a few hours until your release while the police process your charges.

BMV hearing

If you are arrested, you will receive a notice from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) warning you that your license will be suspended. Typically, you have 10 days following the date of suspension listed on the notice in order to request a hearing.  The hearing will determine whether or not you’ll be able to continue to drive or you will remain under suspension.  In some cases, such as when a driver refuses to take a chemical test, the driver will go under suspension on a date certain and remain under suspension unless his or her DUI attorney can win the BMV hearing.

Your attorney can represent you at your BMV Administrative Hearing. If you can demonstrate that the officer lacked probable cause to arrest you for suspicion of OUI, or you can show a problem with the reliability of the test result, your license will not go under suspension. However, the possibility of a criminal suspension of your license from an OUI conviction in the Maine courts will remain.

The arraignment

The arraignment is your first court appearance and during this hearing, a judge will read your charges and you can enter a plea. If you cannot afford to pay bail or bail conditions are objectionable, these issues can also be addressed at this time.

Pretrial motions and hearings

A pretrial hearing (Dispositional Conference) will be held.  Here, the District Attorney and defense counsel can negotiate a resolution of the case so that a trial is unnecessary, or a plea deal is arranged.

However, before a criminal case goes to trial, your criminal defense attorney may request a hearing on “pretrial motions”.  A common example is a motion to suppress evidence that was illegally obtained during a search and seizure.

This would lead to a hearing where a judge will rule on the motion. If the prosecution’s key evidence is declared inadmissible, it can greatly weaken the case against you, sometimes resulting in dismissal of the charges.

Finally, a docket call will take place prior to jury selection.  This is where they say, “the rubber meets the road”.  Docket call is where people who are ready for trial declare their intent to have their cases tried before a judge or jury.  Sometimes, due to weaknesses in one party’s case (state or defense), a last-minute plea deal may be reached.  If no plea deal is reached, you must be ready for jury selection and trial.

The trial

If no acceptable negotiated offer is forthcoming, the case will proceed to trial. The District Attorney will present evidence in an attempt to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of operating your vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Our defense team will defend you, cross-examining witnesses and presenting evidence to support your case. At the end of the trial, you will be found guilty or not guilty and released or sentenced accordingly.

How to get out of an OUI in Maine

Your best chance of escaping an OUI conviction and lifelong criminal record in Maine is to defend the charge with the aid of the best criminal legal counsel available.

Any OUI charge must be treated seriously by you and your legal team or you may suffer life-long negative consequences for your future.  Our legal team will examine the evidence from your case and scrutinize police procedures used to investigate and arrest you, with the aim of getting your case dismissed or getting you acquitted at trial.

If you need help defending an OUI charge, call the Maine Criminal Defense Group at 207-571-8146 for an initial case evaluation.

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