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A charge for Operating Under the Influence (OUI) in Maine comes with a potential loss of driving privileges.
But is there a way to still drive legally if you need to do so for work or study?
Fortunately, if you find yourself in this situation, you may be able to continue driving with a limited license or work-restricted license.
This topic can be a little confusing because an administrative suspension is imposed by the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) when a suspect is charged, and criminal penalties may follow from the Maine courts for a conviction. Besides, not everyone is eligible for a limited or work-restricted license.
Understanding what you can and cannot do after you’ve been charged and/or convicted of OUI is essential so that you stay within the law and don’t re-offend.
If an individual has made a mistake and been convicted of an OUI, the criminal justice system in Maine recognizes that this shouldn’t necessarily impact a person’s ability to work, which could be counter-productive not only for the individual but also for society.
If driving is essential to maintain employment and the offender has a relatively clean criminal record other than the OUI, there is a good chance that he/she can secure a limited license.
A work restricted license (sometimes called a work permit but this is slightly different — see below) allows suspended drivers to drive to and from work, but only due to a BMV suspension.
The restrictions on such licenses are many and they are enforced rigidly. So, a limited license is no “get out of jail free” card if you’re charged with OUI.
Also, bear in mind that if you are subsequently convicted of the charge, you will be expected to serve the entire court-imposed mandatory suspension period (the time you drove on a work-restricted license after being charged for the OUI doesn’t count).
Generally speaking, first-time OUI offenders (those with no other OUI offenses in the past 10 years) can apply for a Maine limited license that allows them to drive for work for the term of the administrative suspension.
If convicted, the court-imposed suspension of 150 days will need to be served as well as the other criminal penalties.
The only way that convicted OUI offenders can legally drive to work during the court-imposed mandatory 150-day suspension for a first offense is if:
Importantly, there is no right to a Maine work-restricted license for a second or subsequent OUI suspension.
It is also important to note that a Maine work-restricted license allows you to drive to one place only: the place where you’re employed (and back home again).
You are generally able to drive within the context of your employment (for example, making a work-related delivery) but no diversions to grocery stores, friends’ houses or even educational or medical facilities are permitted. The restrictions are real, and you will be expected to follow them to the letter.
Habitual offenders are those with three or more serious motor vehicle criminal convictions within five years.
Generally speaking, the Maine criminal justice system wants to keep such offenders off the state’s roads. They cannot apply for a limited license.
However, habitual offenders may petition the BMV for a work permit after their license has been suspended for 18 months.
Restricted licenses are issued under sections 2453, 2453-A or 2472 of the Maine statutes.
To obtain a restricted license after a DUI conviction, you will need to meet the eligibility criteria and then go through the following steps:
Habitual offenders applying for a Maine work permit should follow the same steps when applying to the BMV.
Another way to drive legally before the full suspension is served is through Maine’s ignition interlock device program. This device is essentially a breathalyzer, which (when installed in motor vehicles) locks the engine until a clean breath sample is provided by the driver.
You may be eligible for this program after serving a portion of an OUI suspension. The portion varies according to how many times you’ve been convicted:
Eligible drivers applying for this program need to have completed an approved driver education and evaluation program (DEEP) before being able to drive with the device.
Determining whether you can obtain a limited or work-restricted license or work permit can be complex. If you’re unsure of the guidelines provided and need legal assistance with an OUI or obtaining driving privileges, speak to a qualified criminal defense lawyer.
For experienced legal help with an OUI charge or assistance with securing a limited driving license, call the Maine Criminal Defense Group at 207-571-8146 for an initial case evaluation.
If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with
one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys
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