OUI / DUI
The state of Maine criminalizes drunk driving or driving while intoxicated. The crime in Maine however is called “Operating Under the Influence” (OUI) and incorporates both driving while intoxicated by alcohol and drugs. Maine law and Maine law enforcement agencies are very serious about punishing and enforcing the drunk driving laws. It is one of the most common crimes in Maine and carries very serious and long lasting consequences. Importantly, the criminal code establishes mandatory minimum penalties for each specific OUI offense conviction. Mandatory minimums are the least severe penalties a judge is allowed to impose for a conviction.
Punishments / Penalties if convicted of OUI in Maine:
1st Offense OUI: If it is a first time conviction for OUI, those accused face a mandatory minimum sentence of $500 fine and 150-day drivers license suspension.
2nd Offense (within 10 year period): If there is a prior conviction for OUI within a ten year period, the mandatory minimum sentence includes at least 7 days in jail, a $700 fine, and a 3-year drivers license suspension.
3rd Offense: If you have two prior convictions for OUI within ten years, the third offense will be charged as a class C felony crime. The conviction carries a mandatory sentence of at least 30 days jail and a fine of at least $1100 and a drivers license suspension of six years as well as a suspension of your right to register motor vehicles. (A class C felony includes maximum penalties of up to five years in jail and $5000 fine as well as probation for up to two years.)
Other Increased Mandatory Minimum Punishments / Penalties for certain OUI facts:
In some cases a person charged with Maine OUI will face increased or more severe punishments if convicted of certain types or OUI, or if certain facts are charged and proven. Some of the circumstances that lead to increased punishments include an OUI charge where:
the driver had a blood alcohol level of over .15% (breath or blood test) This triggers automatic minimum two days jail time.
the driver refused to provide a chemical sample (refused to take a breath Intoxilyzer or blood test) A refusal causes an additional an 275 day administrative (BMV see below) license suspension
the driver was speeding over 30mph over the posted speed limit, or
the driver had a passenger in the vehicle who was under 21 years old.
Other penalties the court may not tell you about:
If you are convicted of OUI in Maine, you may be denied entry or prohibited from crossing the border into Canada. Your auto insurance rates will undoubtedly go up, and you may have trouble with background checks or getting security clearance for certain jobs. There is always a risk of employment consequences because OUI is related to substance use, and that can cause concerns for employers. Finally, if charged with an OUI, there are very serious driver’s license consequences and implications at play.
OUI License suspension issues: The BMV will try to suspend your license before court!
A major part of fighting an OUI case in Maine involves the administrative license suspension that the Maine DMV or BMV will bring against anyone charged with OUI. This usually happens well before your first court date when the Secretary of State's office will send a letter stating that the accused will be automatically suspended due to the fact that you were charged (not convicted) of OUI. That means that even if your case eventually gets dismissed in court, the BMV will suspend your license administratively if you do not act quickly and fight both the BMV and Court case. If you are charged with OUI, make sure your mailing address is up to date with the secretary of state, DMV / BMV because you will be sent a letter with a date that you license will automatically go under suspension. Importantly, you only get 10 days from the date of suspension listed in that letter, to act in order to stop or pause the administrative license suspension in order to fight that part of the case. If you or your lawyer do not affirmatively request a BMV hearing, your license will be suspended starting on the day that is listed in the letter from the DMV/BMV.
If you are considering hiring a lawyer for your OUI charge, make sure they will represent you in both the administrative (BMV) and criminal court case. The BMV hearing is not only important to fight to try to preserve your ability to drive, but arguments made during the hearing, as well as the hearing’s outcome will be important to defending your criminal OUI charge in court.
How a Maine OUI attorney can help:
The information provided on this website is just a glimpse into the many issues that arise with OUI case. Because OUI cases are one of the most complex, multi-faceted criminal charges you can face in Maine, if you are charged with OUI, you need to speak with a lawyer. There are multiple components, and confusing but critical steps you need to know and be ready for in order to navigate an OUI before court, during the criminal case, and license requirements/options after. It would take whole book to go over all the issues in an OUI case, so please speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure that you know all of the options, explore all of your defenses, and fight the OUI charge and OUI license suspension on all fronts.