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State v. J.G.

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State v. J.G.

Tom Richard Case Results: State v. J.G.

Charges: OUI Refusal (Second Lifetime)

Charge: OUI Refusal

Maximum Penalty: 364 days in jail; 14-month loss of license (including 275-day BMV suspension); $2,000 fine

Mandatory Minimum Penalty: 4 days in jail; 150-day loss of license; $600 fine

Summary: Our client was stopped by an officer late one night in downtown Portland after giving the officer the middle finger at an intersection.  The officer angrily approached our client’s vehicle, and while our client was reaching for his registration, as requested by the officer, the office reached into our client’s vehicle, removed the keys from the ignition, and ordered our client out of the vehicle, telling him he was under arrest for operating under the influence.  This arrest was made after just 30 seconds of the officer interacting with our client.  The officer cited slurred speech, glassy eyes, and the odor of intoxicants as his reasons for arresting our client.  Our client was taken to the police station, where he refused a breath test after being read the implied consent form.

Results: Because he was charged with a refusal, our client lost his right to operate almost immediately, and he had to await a hearing at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles regarding the alleged refusal to get it back.  At the Bureau of Motor Vehicles hearing, we had to convince the hearings examiner that the officer did not have probable cause to believe our client was under the influence of intoxicants when he made the decision to arrest our client.  Because the Maine Supreme Court has determined that the bar for probable cause in this situation is extremely low, this was an uphill battle.  Utilizing the officer’s body worn camera footage, as well as his dash-mounted camera footage, we aggressively cross-examined the officer at the hearing regarding any signs of possible impairment.  The videos showed that our client was not slurring his speech, nor did he appear to exhibit the classic signs of impairment.  Unfortunately for the officer, he officer carried his anger toward our client into the hearing, which did not play out well for him during the cross-exam portion.  When asked about specific details of his training at the police academy regarding investigation of impaired drivers, he replied that he did not learn from books or classes, stating he learned in the field.  He then made several incorrect statements about proper impaired driving investigation protocols.  The hearings examiner concluded that the officer did not have probable cause to arrest our client for operating under the influence, and his 275-day suspension for refusal was rescinded.  His driving privileges were immediately restored.

Using this same information, and armed with the terrific results from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles hearing, we approached the District Attorney, who had originally offered a conviction for OUI, along with a 14-day jail sentence, to resolve the case.  We told her we were prepared to have a hearing on a Motion to Suppress, arguing that the officer lacked probable cause to make the arrest, and that we would be asking the Court to toss out all evidence against our client from the moment he was ordered to exit his motor vehicle and told he was under arrest.  She then made an offer our client chose to accept.

Result: Dismissal of OUI Refusal.  Plea of guilty to one count of Driving to Endanger for a $575 fine and 30-day loss of license.  Our client’s time suspended while awaiting his BMV Hearing was credited toward the 30 days, so he suffered no further loss of license.

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