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When flashing lights appear in your rearview mirror, it can be stressful – whether or not you have been drinking.
Consequently, you may do or say something that can unintentionally escalate an innocent situation.
Being prepared for what happens next after an OUI traffic stop can help you remain calm, say and do the right things, and handle the situation in your best interests.
In Maine, if you are found driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more (or with mental or physical faculties impaired to any extent) you will be arrested and charged with Operating Under the Influence (OUI).
This is essentially the same as DUI/DWI, as it is termed in other states, or “drunk driving” as it’s commonly known.
Most drivers charged with OUI are arrested by a law enforcement officer at a traffic stop – often at a routine stop or after an officer observes erratic driving or speeding.
When you are pulled over, the police officer who handles your case will be trained to look for any indication that you are intoxicated or that you have been drinking. Your behavior and the contents of your car will be observed.
As well as erratic driving, officers are generally looking for other signs of impairment, such as motor skill impairment and/or confusion in attempting to locate items, as well as the odor of alcoholic beverages and bloodshot eyes.
If the officer feels that signs of impairment are evident, you will be requested to submit to a roadside breath test and/or field sobriety tests (FSTs) to make sure that you are fit to drive.
These tests allow the officer to gather evidence against you to demonstrate that you were driving with your mental or physical faculties impaired.
The officer is likely to have studied and practiced FSTs extensively, so will be skilled at administering the test and “scoring” your performance.
While participation in an FST is voluntary under Maine law, your refusal to submit to FSTs or a breath test, will be admissible evidence at trial.
If the police officer believes that there is probable cause to support impaired or drunk driving, you will be arrested on the spot.
Once you are arrested on suspicion of operating under the influence (OUI), you will be taken to the local police station.
You will be asked to submit a chemical (breath, blood or urine) test and this will be used to confirm your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).
If it is confirmed as .08 or over, you will be charged with OUI. Your fingerprints and photograph will be taken and you will be placed in a holding cell.
It is advisable if you have not already done so at this point, to contact an OUI attorney to begin working on your release and your defense.
If you are pulled over for an OUI, there are some important dos and don’ts that can influence the outcome of the situation.
Following are some general guidelines to help prepare you if you are pulled over at an OUI stop:
If you are arrested, charged, and convicted of OUI in Maine, there are immediate and long-term consequences.
Your license will be suspended within a few weeks of being arrested for DUI by the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), and your car will be towed. You may be able to apply for a work-restricted license that will allow you to drive to work and school, IF this is a first offense.
If you fail to submit to a chemical test when requested by law enforcement, you will be facing mandatory minimum penalties if you are convicted:
Besides these immediate penalties, a conviction on your record can create long-term issues with employment, housing, education, travel, and so on.
You will not win your case at the roadside.
When you are stopped and even if you are arrested and charged, that is not the time to begin your defense.
It starts after you call your lawyer. Until then, it’s best to say as little as possible and stay calm and collected.
An OUI conviction is still a long way off. The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you operated your vehicle while either under the influence of alcohol (or drugs) or with a BAC of .08 or above.
An experienced OUI attorney will provide a decent chance of escaping a criminal conviction, no matter how strong the evidence against you seems at the time.
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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