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OUI Laws & Penalties in Maine

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Jan 18, 2021

OUI Laws & Penalties in Maine

OUI Laws & Penalties in MaineIf you are stopped and charged with OUI in Maine or, worse still, injure someone in an accident where you are found to be operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, do not expect leniency from the authorities.

With almost 30 percent of all traffic-related deaths in Maine resulting from accidents involving OUI drivers, sympathy will be in short supply.

You face thirty days in jail, a large fine, and a lengthy license suspension even for a first offense but an experienced OUI lawyer can often reduce these penalties.

The law recognizes that people make honest mistakes and, though the penalties are harsh, you will have a chance of escaping the worst of the consequences if your lawyer can demonstrate that you warrant it.

OUI plea bargaining in Maine

Few people who attempt to fight an OUI charge in Maine alone or with a public defender get too far. The laws are complex and technical and most public defenders would rather settle cases out of court than go to trial.

Cases often hinge on the reasons that you were stopped in the first place, the precise actions of law enforcement officers, the timing of these actions, the accuracy of testing equipment, and other technicalities.

Drivers charged with OUI often have cases dismissed because of errors made in police procedure or evidence made inadmissible due to technicalities.

If your case does proceed, a plea bargain may be the best option. This is where your lawyer negotiates with the prosecution and arranges for you to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser charge than OUI.

The prosecution might agree to a plea bargain if is your first offense and there are doubts about evidence or procedural errors were made that violated your rights.

In Maine, a charge of “wet reckless” often replaces an OUI charge in a plea bargain situation. This is a reckless driving charge where alcohol is involved.

If the case proceeds as an OUI, you still have a chance of acquittal. Police officers often make errors when stopping drivers and administering field sobriety test procedures, blood tests and breath tests.

A good lawyer will examine all the evidence against you closely and work on building a robust defense to present in court. It is unwise to plead guilty to an OUI in Maine without first speaking to a lawyer.

Is jail time mandatory for an OUI in Maine?

An OUI charge needs to be taken seriously in Maine. OUI penalties are harsh and potentially life-altering, with potential consequences not only for your immediate freedoms and financial position but also for your future.

An OUI conviction could result in a lifelong criminal record, which is visible to potential employers, landlords, and other parties conducting background checks.

More immediately, you will face a mandatory jail sentence, the length of which depends on whether it is your first offense or not:

  • First-time offense –30 days in jail
  • Second-time offense – six months in jail
  • Third-time offense – nine months plus one day in jail
  • Fourth-time offense – two years in jail

When considering prior offenses, Maine has a “look-back” period of ten years.

In addition to the mandatory jail time, substantial fines and license suspensions apply as follows:

  • First-time offense – $500 fine and a minimum 90-day license suspension
  • Second-time offense – $1,000 fine and a mandatory three-year suspension
  • Third-time offense – minimum $1,000 fine (no maximum) and a mandatory six-year suspension
  • Fourth-time offense – minimum $1,000 fine (no maximum) and a mandatory six-year suspension

All repeat offenders must fit an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. This is a type of in-vehicle breath test that prevents you from starting the engine unless a zero-alcohol reading is detected.

What happens if you refuse a chemical test in Maine?

If you refuse to take a chemical test when requested by law enforcement, your license will be immediately suspended.

This is an administrative suspension from the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles with no court action necessary – which is why it can happen immediately.

Maine has an “implied consent” law, meaning that you are legally required to take a breath, blood or urine test if there is probable cause and you are requested to do so by an appropriate authority.

Even if the charge of OUI is later dropped, you may still have to serve a lengthy license suspension, as follows:

  • First offense – 275-day suspension
  • Second offense – 18-month suspension
  • Third offense – four-year suspension

Even if you refuse to take a chemical test, you can still be convicted of OUI from a police officer’s testimony.

Your refusal to take a test will then be considered an aggravating factor by the judge and may impact the severity of your penalties.

Can out-of-state licenses be suspended in Maine?

With out-of-state license holders who are prosecuted under Maine law, driving privileges cannot be suspended for anywhere but the state of Maine.

However, if the BMV in Maine issues you with a Notice of Suspension, it will also be sent to your home state and you can face a local suspension, according to the policies of your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

It is possible that your state only issues a suspension if you were found guilty of an OUI in another state – not for simply refusing a test.

If you are particularly unfortunate, you may be hit with a double suspension – one from Maine and then a new one that starts again when you return to your state.

You always have a chance with a DUI in Maine…

No matter how much evidence has been gathered and how overwhelming it appears, don’t plead guilty to an OUI in Maine.

The concept of “reasonable doubt” is very real in many OUI cases – and it may only require a proficient lawyer to introduce this doubt in your case.

Even if you end up being convicted, your lawyer can reduce the negative consequences for you.

OUI lawyers with specialized expertise in the state’s drink-driving laws and trial experience know how to prevent one mistake on the roads from impacting your life excessively.

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

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