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Anyone charged with operating under the influence (OUI) in Maine faces serious repercussions but, for underage OUIs, the consequences of a permanent criminal record can carry over into later life and impact your future.
If you are aged under 21 and charged with OUI, therefore, it is important to take the charge seriously and to take preventative measures to avoid the most serious consequences.
It can be intimidating to be treated as a criminal for an honest mistake behind the wheel, so it helps to understand more about the legal processes and what you can expect if charged with underage OUI in Maine…
Maine operates a “zero tolerance” policy toward youngsters who drive under the influence of alcohol (OUI). This is meant to deter drivers from drinking and driving.
Drivers under the age of 21 are not permitted to operate a vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood.
If you are convicted under the zero-tolerance policy, the administrative license suspensions imposed for an underage OUI (explained in the next section) are bad enough. However. If you are arrested for a criminal underage OUI, you will face misdemeanor charges, which can have even more serious consequences for your future.
The penalties for an underage driver take a step up to misdemeanor criminal charges if he or she is stopped operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08%, which is the legal limit for most drivers over the age of 21 in Maine.
The same applies if caught operating a vehicle while under the influence of (impaired by) drugs or alcohol.
It is important if you are arrested for drunk driving that you do everything within your power to avoid a criminal conviction for OUI. That’s why your first move should be to consider hiring an OUI attorney from The Maine Criminal Defense Group.
A highly qualified OUI defense attorney gives you the best shot at avoiding an OUI conviction as well as an administrative suspension under Maine’s Zero Tolerance policy.
Simply because an allegation of sexual assault takes place doesn’t mean that a conviction will result in all cases. There can be many viable defenses to an allegation of sexual assault. When it comes to potential defenses, the viability of any given defense obviously depends on the specific circumstances. With that said, we can identify several defenses which tend to be raised more often than others. Mistake of fact is among the most common defenses; this is just a simple defense which says “the identity is mistaken” – the crime happened, but the perpetrator has been incorrectly identified – or “the crime never happened at all.” A mistake of fact defense depends on things such as the reliability of witnesses, the value or significance of the available evidence, and so forth.
The “Romeo & Juliet” defense is another commonly used defense in Maine. Basically, this is a defense to the crime of sexual abuse of minor and holds that a person cannot be convicted of such a crime if he or she isn’t more than 5 years older than the victim. The law is written in this way in order to protect young couples engaging in consensual sexual activity.
Another common defense is the “mistake of age” defense. In Maine, a defendant has the ability to claim that he or she had a reasonable belief regarding the age of an alleged victim. Hence, if a defendant had a reasonable basis on which to believe that another person was at the age of consent, then that defendant may be able to overcome a charge of statutory sexual assault. Maine is unlike most jurisdictions throughout the country in this way, as most jurisdictions today don’t allow this type of defense.
For drivers under the age of 21 in Maine, according to the Bureau of Highway Safety:
“If you are found operating, or attempting to operate, a motor vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in your body, you will lose your license for one year. If you refuse a test, you will lose your license for at least 18 months. If you have a passenger under 21 years of age, an additional 180-day suspension will be imposed.”
These are the penalties for a first offense through the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles hearings division. For a second or subsequent offense of underage OUI, the driver will typically face a two-year license suspension.
Remember, drivers with a BAC over .08% face standard criminal OUI penalties, which can be even harsher. Depending on the circumstances, you may be looking at fines and even jail time in addition to a license suspension.
Additionally, note that all drivers in Maine, including underage drivers, are subject to the state’s implied consent laws. These require that under-age drivers submit to alcohol testing. The unlawful refusal of a test means an 18-month suspension for a first violation and a 30-month suspension for a second or subsequent offense.
Drivers who complete a substance abuse treatment program may be able to apply for early license reinstatement.
Most underage criminal charges are sealed after you turn 18, provided a specified period of time passes. However, an underage OUI can stay on your permanent record. This can affect your options when it comes to education, employment, housing, insurance, and many other aspects of your future.
If you hire a qualified OUI defense attorney, he or she can liaise and negotiate with prosecutors. This may help prevent a zero-tolerance conviction from appearing on your permanent record, especially if you agree to perform community service and/or drug or alcohol counseling, for instance.
If you are arrested by police for underage OUI in Maine, it doesn’t mean that you relinquish your constitutional rights. If these are violated, it can aid your defense.
For instance, if the police pull you over on a highway, “search and seizure” rules apply. The Fourth Amendment protections require that the police officer has information of a crime having been committed before acting.
If there is no “reasonable suspicion” of a crime (OUI), any evidence seized may be rendered inadmissible in court and your case could be dismissed.
These protections apply whether or not you are under the age of 21. You also have other rights that an OUI attorney will be fully aware of.
Additionally, OUI cases are notoriously technical, relying on the correct administration of tests and properly calibrated equipment. An experienced OUI attorney will apply his or her knowledge of this and use it to mitigate the consequences in your case or have the charges dropped.
Underage OUI is not something you can ignore and hope will go away. If you leave it to run its course and take no action, you will be reminded of the consequences again and again in the future.
Your best chance of avoiding this is to face the charge, speak to your parents, and encourage them to help you do something about it.
If you are proactive and seek the assistance of an experienced OUI defense attorney, you have a good chance of being able to put the experience down to a one-off mistake and moving on with your life.
If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with
one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys
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