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Understanding the Habitual Offender Revocation Law in Maine

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Nov 30, 2022

Understanding the Habitual Offender Revocation Law in Maine

Habitual Offender Revocation Laws for 2022 in Maine

You probably know that if the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) sends you a notice that says you’re classified as a Maine Habitual Offender, it’s not good news — but what does it mean exactly?

Is there any way that you can continue to drive legally?

Can you get your license back?

This article explains the habitual offender revocation law in Maine so that if you find yourself in this difficult position, you don’t make a bad situation worse.

What is the habitual offender law in Maine?

Under Maine state law, you become a habitual offender and your license will be immediately revoked by the courts if:

  1. You’re convicted of three or more separate motor vehicle-related crimes within the past five years, or
  2. You’re convicted of 10 or more separate traffic (moving) violations within the past five years.

Not all motor vehicle-related crimes are included in this classification (see more about this below) but the vast majority are. Traffic violations include everything from speeding to running a red light.

Can I get my license back?

The revocation of a license for habitual offender status is initially for three years. However, after serving a minimum of 18 months, you may take steps to request to get your license reinstated.

These steps start with petitioning the Secretary of State for a hearing to show cause why the license should not remain revoked.

Learn More → What is an OUI / DUI habitual offender in Maine?

What are the penalties if I continue to drive as a habitual offender in Maine?

If you were properly informed that your license has been revoked as a Maine habitual offender, continuing to drive is a criminal offence that will be harshly dealt with.

Continuing to drive while revoked suggests to the court that you don’t obey court orders. Therefore, punishments are unforgiving and involve considerable jail time.

Firstly, as a “strict liability” crime, the State prosecutors do not need to prove any criminal mental state to secure a conviction. This, like with an Operating Under the Influence (OUI) offense, means that even if you made an honest mistake, you can still be convicted.

Secondly, continuing to drive after revocation of your license as a Maine habitual offender will lead to mandatory minimum penalties, the severity of which depends on whether you were convicted for driving while revoked before and your criminal history.

Mandatory minimum sentences for driving as a habitual offender

There are four classes of mandatory minimum sentences for driving as a habitual offender in Maine, as follows:

  1. Class D crime with a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. This applies if the offender has not additionally been convicted of driving while revoked in the past 10 years and has not received an OUI conviction within the past 10 years.

  2. Class C crime with a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. This applies if the offender has additionally had one other conviction for driving while revoked or one OUI conviction within the past 10 years.

  3. Class C crime with a mandatory minimum sentence of nine months plus a day in jail and a $1,000 fine. This applies if the offender has additionally had two other convictions for driving while revoked or two OUI convictions within the past 10 years.

  4. Class C crime with a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in state prison and a $1,000 fine. This applies if the offender has additionally had three or more other convictions for driving while revoked or three or more OUI convictions within the past 10 years.

These mandatory minimum sentences mean that offenders receive no probation, community service or a lesser sentence to offset the minimum period of incarceration.  Upon conviction, they must serve the time and pay the fines as prescribed by law. The judge cannot suspend these penalties.

Can I get a work-restricted license in Maine?

A work-restricted license allows you to drive from your home to your place of work and back or within the scope of your employment.

Some offenders may be able to apply for this license 18 months from the date of the license revocation, but it is unavailable for offenders who gained habitual offender status by committing three or more separate motor-vehicle-related crimes.

Note that a work-restricted license can be revoked if you are convicted of a subsequent motor vehicle-related crime, or you violate the terms of the restricted license.

Which offenses count toward habitual offender status?

According to 29-A §2551-A of the Maine Statutes, convictions for the following offenses count towards habitual offender status:

As you can see, most traffic and motor vehicle crimes count towards habitual offender status. Multiple charges from the same incident can only be counted as a single offense and the following offenses are excluded:

  • A conviction for operating without a license if the license was expired, not suspended
  • A conviction for operating after suspension if the suspension was for failure to pay child support
  • A conviction for operating after suspension if the suspension was for not paying a reinstatement fee
  • A traffic infraction (civil violation) for operating after suspension

If you’re concerned that you may become a Maine habitual offender or are facing criminal charges for driving as a habitual offender or OUI, legal representation is important to avoid further serious consequences.

Speak to a Maine Criminal Defense Group lawyer during an initial consultation, and we can advise you of your legal options. Contact the Maine Criminal Defense Group today by calling 207-571-8146.

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