Every state in the country has laws on the books for driving a vehicle under the influence (DUI) or operating under the influence (OUI), and these statutes are what are known as progressive penalties, designed to apply greater and greater punishments where the convicted party not only commits an OUI offense, but continues to repeat those offenses.
In many cases, the first offense involves a temporary loss of driving rights, required re-education and training on the risks of driving impaired. Financial hits, such as fines and court fees, are generally added on to the penalty. Jail time may apply based on the defendant’s criminal record, driver history and particular circumstances of the offense. Once a defendant is facing a second, third, or even greater number of the same kind of OUI, the penalties grow far more severe as the charges have now morphed into felony charges.
In many states, a second penalty may include some jail time up to 90 days, as well as loss of driving rights and fines. A third penalty escalates the penalties, and often includes jail time from six months or longer in county jail or even state prison. Fines and loss of driving privileges up to eight years are frequesntly imposed in many states.
When a defendant gets hit with a fourth offense, the local District Attorney assumes that the defendant has learned nothing and is a major risk to public safety. Judges are practically expected to “throw the book” at the defendant, because he or she has become a public menace and a proven liability to the community. Permanent or extensive loss of driving license rights is applied first and many defendants can be sent directly to state prison for a lengthy term of imprisonment.
In almost all cases, the defendant suffers a great deal of personal and professional fallout, which stems directly from an OUI conviction. In addition, the court fees applied on top of the monetary, license suspension and jail penalties can be exorbitant and act as an additional penalty. The defendant’s auto insurance coverage costs can expect to skyrocket due to the risk they pose. Defendants may lose their job if it is driving-related, and their credit history will take a hard hit due to the penalties and financial problems causes by the fines, not to mention being unable to meet personal commitments while serving jail time.
Don’t Go It Alone in Court
For anyone facing an OUI charge, even a first time violation, he or she should not take it for granted. The professional expertise of an OUI lawyer is critical for avoiding harsher penalties than necessary should a conviction actually apply. Many first time offenders can be negotiated down to a misdemeanor if agreements are made to pay fines and commit to training and improvement, but these things don’t happen on their own. Good legal advocacy is a necessity. If you have had multiple OUIs and want to know more about what your options are don’t hesitate to contact the Law Office of The Maine Criminal Defense Group today at (207) 571-8146.
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