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OUI / DUI Defense Lawyers in Portland, Maine

Portland Maine Operating Under the Influence (OUI) Lawyers

OUI laws in Portland, Maine are severe and you can expect no help from law enforcement if you are stopped on suspicion of drunk or impaired driving here.

The difference between a lifelong criminal record and potential jail time for an OUI conviction is usually the strength of the defense you put forward for your actions.

The experienced Portland OUI attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group can help you avoid the serious consequences of a conviction. As well as an in-depth understanding of the OUI laws in Maine, we know the court system in Portland and have successfully defended many OUI defendants in your position here.

OUI laws in Portland Maine

Under Maine OUI laws, you are not allowed to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicant. Most drivers know this and many also understand that the legal limit is .08 percent Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

But did you know that you can be arrested and charged with OUI even if you are within the legal limit? If a law enforcement officer suspects you of operating a vehicle in an impaired way, you will be arrested and asked to submit to certain tests.

First and second OUI offenses are usually charged as Class D misdemeanors in Maine. Subsequent offenses may elevate the charge to a class C felony.

If you plead guilty to OUI or are found guilty by a judge in Portland, you will face both criminal penalties from the court and administrative penalties from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) in Maine.

Read More understanding Impaired Driving and OUI Laws in Maine [2021]

OUI first offense: criminal penalties

A “first offense” means that you do not have any prior DUI convictions in any state within the preceding 10 years.

Maine imposes the following set of mandatory minimum criminal penalties for a first offense OUI conviction:

  • $500 fine
  • 150-day driver’s license suspension
  • Misdemeanor on your permanent record

Portland judges frequently exceed these minimum penalties and hand down harsher punishments. It’s important to bear in mind that even for a first conviction, Maine OUI laws allow for a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail.

Penalties for second and subsequent OUI offenses carry harsher minimum and maximum penalties.

BMV penalties for a first OUI

The BMV in Portland doesn’t wait for a conviction before suspending your driver’s license.

If you fail a breathalyzer test with a BAC of .08 percent or higher, the BMV will suspend your driver’s license. This is an automatic suspension unless you contest it by requesting an administrative hearing (in writing) within 10 days of the notice of suspension date.

An OUI lawyer from The Maine Criminal Defense Group can file for and represent you at the hearing, which can be especially beneficial if you live out of state or are busy working.

If you are unsuccessful at your BMV hearing and are later convicted in court, any criminal driving suspension runs concurrently with the BMV one. You serve the suspension only once.

Read More Refusing a Breathalyzer or Chemical Test when Pulled jOver for an OUI in Maine

Drivers under the age of 21

For drivers under the age of 21 (the legal drinking limit in Maine), Zero Tolerance laws apply for OUI.

Your license will be suspended by the BMV for any amount of alcohol and, for a first-time OUI, you will face the following criminal penalties:

  • 150-day suspension
  • Driver Alcohol Education (DEEP Program)
  • Reinstatement fees

Read More Underage OUI Charges in Maine [2022]

OUI / DUI penalty overview in for Maine

If the OUI investigation gathers strong evidence of an operating under the influence crime, you could end up getting convicted on drunk driving or drugged driving charges.

The penalties for an OUI conviction continue to change and carry heavier penalties and fines as politicians continue to cater to special interest groups that want to punish drunk drivers.

As a result, the sanctions for an OUI conviction, even one that does not involve a crash or injury,  are shockingly high for the severity of the crime:

No. of Offense (Last 10 Years) License Suspension Jail Time Minimum Fine
1st Offense 150 Days 0 – 96 Hours $500
2nd Offense 3 Years 7 Days $700
3rd Offense 6 Years 30 Days $1,100
4th Offense 8 Years 6 Months $2,100

Implied consent penalties in Maine

You are breaking the law if you refuse a breath, blood or urine test if you are suspected of OUI in Portland and requested to submit a chemical sample.

This is known as the “implied consent” law, meaning that drivers in Maine must submit to a BAC test or breathalyzer when requested by a qualified law enforcement officer. Refusal will lead to an automatic suspension of your driving privileges for 275 days.

For drivers under the age of 21, a refusal means an automatic suspension of driving privileges for 18 months.

OUI defenses in Maine

Very few OUI cases are “open and shut”. Once you talk your situation through with an experienced OUI defense attorney, we may be able to work on pretrial negotiations to convince the prosecutor to drop the charges.

If the case looks like it will proceed to trial, we can normally consider one of the following defense strategies depending on the precise circumstances of your case:

  • Lack of witness credibility: The officers/witnesses involved provide inconsistent testimony/reports.
  • No probable cause for arrest: If the arresting officer had no probable cause to arrest you and subsequently compel you to take the breathalyzer or blood test, it can damage the prosecution’s case against you.
  • Unreliable Field Sobriety Tests: FSTs are highly subjective and often administered incorrectly by poorly trained officers, which can harm the prosecution’s case.
  • Malfunctioning equipment: Breath test equipment is highly technical and needs to be correctly maintained, calibrated and operated to provide accurate readings. A technical issue or poorly trained officer can provide a powerful defense.
  • Chemical blood test issues: strict procedures must be followed with blood tests and any deviation from these can result in contamination and the evidence being dismissed.

Law Firm Location in Portland, Maine

19 Commercial Street
Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 292-5736

Hours of Operation
Monday through Friday 8AM – 8PM

Contact one of our experienced DUI attorneys to help you avoid much of the aforementioned pain and headache that comes with getting arrested for drinking and driving.

Our OUI / DUI attorneys are experienced in:

  • Understanding field sobriety tests that law enforcement officials rely upon to build their drunk driving cases.
  • Understanding the nuances of breath and blood testing and are skilled at identifying the legal and scientific issues that can be identified and challenged  in court.
  • Responding to OUI challenges that involve both alcohol or drugs which is critical as OUI charges are not just unique to drinking but also partaking in illicit substance while operating a motor vehicle.

Location of courthouse in Portland, Maine

If you get charged with operating under the influence (OUI) in Portland, your case will be handled in the Portland Unified Criminal Docket, in Portland, Maine. The courthouse is located at:

205 Newbury Street
Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 822-4200

Hours of Operation
Monday through Friday 8AM – 4PM

The Maine district courthouse resides in a large, bulky, white stone building. Driving directions can be found using the following Google Maps directions, and are also available on the court’s website.

Importantly, make sure that you go to the correct courthouse. The Federal District Court for Southern Maine is located directly across Pearl Street from the Maine District Court. The Federal District Court is for federal cases – many people mistakenly go to the federal courthouse when they actually have a state case.

Your OUI charge is a state charge, so will be handled in the Maine District Court, not the Federal District Court. Unfortunately, both courthouses look very similar, and are right across the street from each other.

Make sure that you go to the correct court; if you don’t, and are unable to make it to a court proceeding that requires your presence, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest.

If you have any doubts, stand in Lincoln Park, near the intersection of Pearl Street, and Federal Street, and stand with your back to the park, facing the intersection.

You want to be in the Maine District Court, the building on the left. You will only have to walk across one road – Federal Street – to get to it. To get to the Federal District Court from that point, you will have to walk across two roads – Federal Street, and Pearl Street.

Courtroom Portland

If you’re attending court for the first time (assuming it is your arraignment), court will likely be held in courtroom #1, which is located on the 1st floor. For all other court appearances, your case will likely be held in courtroom 7.

You will not have to venture up to the third floor – this area is only for the Cleave’s Law Library and for the Maine Law Court Justices’ offices. If you’re case is set for jury selection or jury trial, you’ll likely be in courtroom #11, which is on the second floor.

What is the court process for OUI charges in Portland?

In Portland Maine, OUI is processed just like any other criminal case in Cumberland County — through the Unified Criminal Docket (UCD). This means that we will not need to transfer your case to the superior court for a jury on a misdemeanor OUI.

While this is generally good news for defendants, it does mean that the case may not be heard locally but at some distance from where the alleged offense occurred.

An OUI case will go through the following legal steps:

  1. Arraignment: The OUI defendant is scheduled to appear before a judge in either Portland Unified Court, Bridgton District Court, or West Bath District Court to hear the charges and enter a plea.
  2. Dispositional conference: about six weeks after arraignment, the defense, prosecution and sometimes the judge meet to discuss whether a negotiated resolution is possible.
  3. Motion hearing: the defense in OUI cases often files motions to suppress evidence or for additional discovery. This must happen no later than the day after the dispositional conference and will be heard around two weeks after the dispositional conference.
  4. Jury selection: if the OUI case proceeds to trial, jury selection in Portland generally happens on a Monday a few weeks after the motion hearing date.
  5. Trial: the trial is usually scheduled for around two weeks after jury selection. Before then, more motions may be filed to decide on the evidence that the jury will see. The OUI trial process normally takes around one or two days in Portland.

Portland, Maine Prosecutors

The District Attorney for Cumberland County, including Portland, is Stephanie Anderson. Ms. Anderson has held the position since 1991, a string of five terms. Her office of prosecutors is divided into four teams.

Each team is led by an experienced prosecutor, and is responsible for specific police departments. They handle all of those police departments’ criminal caseload, including both misdemeanor and felony cases.

If you have any questions about the process of dealing with an OUI / DUI charge in Portland, Maine call The Maine Criminal Defense Group at (207) 292-5736.

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