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Sugarloaf, Spring Skiing, & OUI Charges in Maine

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Apr 3, 2021

Sugarloaf, Spring Skiing, & OUI Charges in Maine

Sugarloaf Reggae Festival 2021The upcoming Sugarloaf Reggae Fest 2021, which starts in early April and goes for three weekends, is an exciting time for many locals in Maine.

Even with this year’s restrictions in place, the “good vibes guaranteed” mantra still applies.

And this coincides with the spring skiing season when all the family can hit the slopes for the final time until winter comes round again.

We hate to be party poopers, especially after such a difficult 12 months for everyone in Maine (and around the world), but please ensure that those good vibes don’t turn into really bad ones with an OUI charge.

Drinking while skiing may not get you arrested and charged – though it is not advisable.

But did you know that driving a snowmobile after drinking can land you in just as much trouble as getting in your car and driving home after a few beers or using marijuana at Reggae Fest?

You are facing possible criminal charges. So, here’s what you need to know as you plan for this month’s festivities…

Why you shouldn’t drink while skiing the slopes

Some people seem to think that a drinking culture accompanies skiing.

However, the term “apres-ski” is used for a reason.  You’re meant to drink after skiing – not while skiing or at lunchtime before the afternoon session out on the slopes.

Yet countless individuals injure themselves and others every year by doing just that.

Skiing is a dangerous sport even without alcohol. That’s why you need a special insurance policy to cover skiing holidays. Accidents often happy at high speeds, which can make broken bones, torn ligaments, and so on a real possibility for any wrong move.

You are more likely to make a wrong move if you ski under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Research shows that skiers are 43 percent more likely to be involved in an accident after drinking.

If you’re involved in an accident off-piste in a remote area, rescue could be problematic and medical bills extensive – and you also need to consider personal liability if you injure someone else. Insurance might not even cover you for medical expenses if you were under the influence.

As a general rule, if you’re over the limit to drive a car, you probably shouldn’t be skiing either.

Penalties for driving under the influence in Maine

While you’re not going to be charged with a crime for skiing under the influence, the same doesn’t apply if you then get in your car and drive home over the limit.

Any driver found with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher in Maine can be arrested and charged with OUI (operating under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated).  In fact, you can be charged with OUI even if your BAC is below the legal limit of .08% as Maine defines impairment very broadly.  Additionally, you can be charged with OUI or DUI if you’re operating under the influence of drugs like marijuana or even prescription medications.

Penalties are harsh for these offenses.  You don’t want to be on the wrong end of a charge.

Possible jail time, fines, and the suspension of driving privileges are the short-term penalties, but longer term you’ll have a criminal record that can affect employment, education, immigration status, and more.

First offense

For a first offense OUI, you can expect:

  • At least a 150-day suspension of your driver’s license or Maine driving privileges
  • $500 fine

There are increased penalties for aggravating factors (which include a mandatory minimum jail sentence of at least 48 hours in jail), such as:

  • BAC of 0.15 percent or more (4 days minimum if you refuse a breath or blood test)
  • Going 30 mph or more over the speed limit
  • Failing to stop for a police officer, or
  • Having a passenger in your car who is under 21

Second offense

For a second offense OUI within 10 years, you can expect a minimum of:

  • Jail for seven days (12 days if you refuse a breath or blood test)
  • A suspended license for up to three years
  • $700 fine

For a second DUI in ten years, you will not be eligible for a work restricted license.

Third offense

For a third OUI offense within 10 years (which is a felony in Maine), you can expect a minimum of:

  • Jail for 30 days (40 days if you refuse a breath or blood test) with a maximum period of incarceration of up to 5 years in prison
  • A suspended license for up to six years
  • $1,100 fine
  • Mandatory attendance at alcohol or drug counseling

 

Snowmobile OUI penalties in Maine

Most people know that driving a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs is bad news. Fewer people are aware that driving a snowmobile or ATV under the influence is a crime too.

The laws in Maine apply to operating a “vehicle” under the influence. Within the Title XII laws, snowmobiles and ATVs are specifically mentioned in relation to laws regarding the outdoors and conservation.

They state that a person “may not operate or attempt to operate a snowmobile while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs or a combination of liquor and drugs.”

The standard used for an OUI in Maine is the same for operating a snowmobile or an ATV as it is for a car (0.08 percent blood alcohol content).

Like with operating a car, if you are under 21, the legal limit for operating snowmobiles and ATVs is zero percent BAC, according to the zero-tolerance laws.

Snowmobiling while intoxicated is a Class D misdemeanor. The penalties in Maine include:

  • A minimum fine of $400 (first offense), $600 (second offense in the past 6 years) or $1,000 (third offense)
  • Up to 30 days in jail (if it is your third or subsequent offense)

Jail time is unlikely for first offenders unless there are aggravating factors, such as failing to stop for a police officer or a BAC of 0.15 percent or above (which could lead to a mandatory minimum two-day term in jail).

Fines may be increased if you refuse to submit to a breath or blood test. You may also be required to participate in a drug and alcohol treatment program by the Department of Health and Human Services in Maine.

Convictions within the past six years for operating a watercraft or while hunting will also be taken into account when sentencing this type of OUI.

Maine statute for OUI with marijuana on a snowmobile

The same statute mentioned above (Title XII) addresses marijuana-based OUIs on snowmobiles.

While this may sound like an unusual “niche” within OUI laws, the law considers marijuana a widely used intoxicant that can seriously impair the ability to drive.

Determining intoxication with alcohol is relatively straightforward compared to determining intoxication from marijuana. Generally, a blood test and urine test to check levels of THC are required for the latter.

If you’re facing an OUI charge in Maine…

Never plead guilty to an OUI in Maine without speaking to us first. Our OUI lawyers have extensive expertise in the state laws and trial experience that can help you avoid the worst consequences.

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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