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South Portland Maine OUI / DUI Attorneys

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OUI / DUI Defense Lawyers in South Portland, ME

South Portland Maine Operating Under the Influence (OUI / DUI) Lawyers

Most, if not all, South Portland PD cruisers are equipped with video camera systems.  Video footage of a DUI arrest can prove extremely helpful to a skilled DUI defense attorney.  Make sure your attorney understands the proper procedures and channels for obtaining the cruiser video footage.

Failure to follow certain guidelines may result in the loss of that video when you need it most… for the defense of your case.  In addition, South Portland Police Department’s booking and Intoxilyzer areas are wired for video and sound.

The same principals concerning the preservation of cruiser video evidence applies here as well. If you have been arrested and charged for DUI, contact our highly skilled and respected South Portland DUI attorney today.

The vast majority of DUI arrests are brought to the Cumberland County Jail for breath testing and processing.  The Cumberland County Jail is located at 50 County Way in Portland.  County Way can only be accessed in one direction from Congress Street and is located near the intersection of St. John Street.

If you’re brought to the jail for processing, you’ll have to post some amount of cash bail; typically anywhere from $300.00 – $750.00.  If you can’t post the bail, you’ll be held at the jail until you can be brought before the court where a judge will set your bail.

Typically, people are brought before the court within 24 hours of their arrest.

Location of South Portland Courthouse

If you get charged with operating under the influence (OUI / DUI) in Portland, your case will be handled in the Portland Unified Criminal Docket, in Portland, Maine.

This courthouse is located at 205 Newbury Street, in a large, bulky, white stone building. Driving directions can be had using Google Maps, 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 DUI 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.

Having a skilled and established South Portland Maine DUI attorney from our law office, by your side to represent you in court can be extremely helpful to you and your case.

Parking

Unfortunately, as many local Mainers know full well, parking in Portland is extremely difficult to come by. All of the streets within a few blocks of the courthouse have a strictly enforced two hour limit, so street parking may not be the best option. There are, however, two public parking lots near the courthouse. The first one is a parking garage located across the street from the courthouse, on Federal Street.

However, this garage is a favorite of those who work both nearby and in the court, so it fills up very quickly. If you arrive close to the court’s opening, at 8am, you might be able to find a spot at one of the nearby meters, or in this garage. If you get lucky and this works out, the price for the garage is $2.50 per hour, and is cash only.

If you don’t manage to find a parking spot in this garage, your second option is an outdoor lot at the corner of Congress and Pearl Street, on the other side of Lincoln Park from the court, named Top of the Old Port Parking.

Courtroom

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.

If your case is set for jury selection or jury trial, you’ll likely be in courtroom #11, which is located on the second floor.

Process

Your first court appearance is your arraignment. You are required to attend your arraignment, as Portland’s court rules require you to appear in person for your arraignment to plead guilty or not guilty. If you are represented by an attorney, he or she can appear on your behalf.

You should try getting to the court 15 minutes before your court appearance. If you’re late for your court appearance, the court will likely issue a warrant for your arrest. However, if you don’t get to court early, you probably won’t be able to find a seat, as the courtroom is often packed to standing room only.

This is especially true of courtroom 1, on the first floor, which is where the general public as well as prisoners are arraigned before the court. Oftentimes, family members attend with their loved ones, which can cause the courtroom to be quite crowded.

Even though you should make sure to get to court a little early, you will want to bring a book and a boatload of patience. Court moves very slowly. If your case is scheduled for 9am, you might not see the judge or prosecutor until nearly noon.

Most cases will be set for a trial date approximately 75 days from the arraignment date.

Typically, there is only one opportunity to resolve the case before trial, which is at the dispositional conference. Regardless of whether you want to take the case to trial or not, you will have to attend this conference. Your presence will only be excused by the court in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

This is another of Portland’s unique set of court rules, the courts in most other counties allow an attorney to completely take care of the criminal matter in the absence of the client, including arraignment and sentencing.

If a deal isn’t struck at the dispositional conference, the trial will be held on a later date. If you are found guilty following a trial, be prepared to be placed into custody immediately.

While judges have discretion to impose a stay of execution of the sentence, many judges will order the defendant to being serving their jail sentences immediately.

Prosecutors

South Portland Maine PD cases are prosecuted by District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck and his team of assistant district attorneys.  Those cases are heard at the Cumberland County Uniform Criminal Docket, which is located in the Cumberland County courthouse.

In most cases, arraignments for misdemeanors are conducted in courtroom number #1, which is located on the first floor, immediately to the right of the security screening section.  Most trials and hearings are conducted on the 2nd floor in either courtroom #7, courtroom #8 or courtroom #11.

Courtroom #11 is located in the “old part of the building” and is the largest courtroom in the courthouse.  The majority of all trials take place in courtroom #11.

The district attorney’s office is located off to the left of the court security screening station.  As you enter the building and pass through the security screening station, you’ll need to take an immediate left, proceed through a door, down 4 stairs and enter the 2nd door on your left.

This is where the DA’s front office is located and where you can obtain additional information about your case.

South Portland court rules & conduct

Expect to be screened by court security.  Do NOT bring any weapons or drugs into the courthouse.  You’ll be immediately arrested and prosecuted.  Court security screening is aggressive and all persons will be subject to wanding after proceeding through a metal detector.

All bags are subject to search and are run through a CT scanner, which will allow the security officer to observe all of the contents of your bag, in color, without ever opening the bag.  If something suspicious is viewed in your bag, it will be subject to immediate search.

On days where you may be picking a jury, arrive early.  Otherwise, you’ll likely find yourself standing outside in a long line as you wait to enter the courthouse and to pass through the security checkpoint.

If Murphy’s Law holds true, you’ll be standing outside, in the rain, without an umbrella, in 35 degree weather.  And you’ll be miserable.  So plan ahead and arrive early.

OUI / DUI Penalties in South Portland

If the OUI investigation gathers strong evidence of an OUI crime, you could end up getting convicted on drunk driving or drugged driving charges. The penalties of an OUI conviction have been increasing over time as politicians try outdoing each other 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 No Minimum $500
2nd Offense 3 Years 7 Days $700
3rd Offense 6 Years 30 Days $1,100
4th Offense 8 Years 6 Months $2,100

These penalties increase if there are aggravating factors. For example:

  • If you refuse to take a chemical BAC test like a blood test or a breathalyzer, you will spend at least 96 hours in jail and 275 days will get added to the license suspension.
  • If you had a passenger under 21 years old in the car, there will be a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours and the license suspension will be 275 days longer.
  • If you try fleeing police, had a BAC of 0.15% or higher, or were driving more than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit, there is a minimum 48-hour jail sentence.

There can also be severe collateral consequences of an OUI conviction. Finding a job can get more difficult with the blemish on your criminal history, and keeping your current one while dealing with the license suspension can be tough.

Defending Against an OUI / DUI in South Portland

There are several ways you can defend against an OUI charge in Maine. Raising whatever defense is available to you is essential if you want to avoid these serious penalties of a conviction:

  • There was no probable cause for the traffic stop. Police need to have probable cause to search for evidence or make an arrest. Because a traffic stop is a type of arrest, police need to have probable cause to believe that a crime is being committed. While they do not necessarily have to think that the crime is OUI, police have to suspect something. They cannot just pull people over for no reason. If they do, the evidence they find can be excluded from court.
  • BAC or field sobriety tests were improperly given. BAC tests are not foolproof. They have to be calibrated and administered properly. If they aren’t, the readings they provide can be inaccurate and innocent people can get into legal trouble. Field sobriety tests are even less reliable. Police can even manipulate them so drivers are more likely to fail.

Contact an OUI / DUI defense lawyer in South Portland today

Regardless of where you are arrested in Maine, having a quality criminal defense attorney like William T. Bly on your side can be the best way to prevent an arrest and criminal charge from turning into a devastating conviction.

Mr. Bly has extensive experience and a proven track record throughout the state of Maine, including in South Portland. When it comes to criminal defense, and especially OUI / DUI defense, William T. Bly fights for your rights and interests, both in and out of court.

Call a highly experienced South Portland Maine DUI lawyer at (207) 571-8146 or contact us directly online.

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